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Subscription scams happen when you sign up online or on the phone for free or trial products. These are usually low cost to start. You then find out you have been signed up for regular repeat payments that are usually much higher than you thought they were.
These products typically include slimming pills, health foods, pharmaceuticals, and anti-aging creams and products. However, more recently we’ve seen the latest mobile phones also being featured.
The criminals take your information, keep it and then use the card details you have given for verification or some other reason to take money from your account each month.
Usually, these monthly payments will be hidden in the terms and conditions so you can’t see them. It’s important that you don’t give your bank details to companies offering too good to be true offers. If it sounds too good to be true it usually is.
How to avoid this sort of scam
- Read the small print (terms & conditions)
- Make sure the terms & conditions box has not been pre-ticked
- If you do sign up and there is a cancellation period. Make sure you cancel within that timeframe if you want to cancel
- Never provide bank details to a business without doing some research first
- Keep a copy of any ad you respond to
- Is the company UK based? It could mean cancelling is much harder if they aren’t
- Check your accounts regularly for unexpected payments
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Q1. I think my mum may have fallen for a free offer scam but was too embarrassed to tell me as she was buying anti-wrinkle cream. How can I help her?
Make every effort to contact the company concerned to cancel the agreement. Contact her bank to cancel future payments
Ascertain with the bank whether a new card is needed. Request a refund from the company. If the bank declines to refund. Refer a complaint about the bank to the Financial Ombudsman Service.
Lastly, report it to Action Fraud, the UK’s national fraud reporting centre by calling 0300 123 20 40 or by visiting www.actionfraud.police.uk. If you are in Scotland, contact Police Scotland on 101.
Tip of the week
To learn more and to join the fight against scams do the free training on www.friendsagainstscams.org.uk. This will give you all the tools you need to talk to your family. The more we talk about scams the more we take away the shame.
Remember: If you have received a text you think is a scam then you can forward to 7726 or take a screenshot and send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you are receiving lots of unwanted phone calls or text messages you can also consider removing your details from data brokers, ensuring that you use a right to object to processing of your data.
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