Trial offers, bonus gifts and freebies are often irresistible. Why not get something for free? Let me count the reasons you should avoid them.
Primarily because most are like magician’s tricks. They use sleight of hand to capture your attention and reel you in. Tricks are fun. But the offers are not. They fool you into thinking you’ll get an amazing benefit, when in fact you will pay and pay and pay.
That’s why we’re glad to hear that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) went after a company that lured consumers into trial memberships, supposed government grant programs and money-making schemes.
The FTC says I Works ran an elaborate $275 million scheme. The company, and its subsidiaries, convinced consumers to provide their credit card numbers, to be used for a small handling fee supposedly for materials related to obtaining grants, and then billed the consumers a one-time charge of $129.95 and monthly fees of up to $59.95.
Consumers had not agreed to pay these fees and ultimately received little or nothing of value.
In 2010, after the FTC filed a complaint, the assets of the company were frozen. Now there is an agreement between two of the company’s leaders, Bryce Payne and Kevin Pilon. They are both banned from selling or having a financial interest in any company that sells grant-related products or investment opportunities and selling or disclosing consumers’ financial information.
Payne was hit with a $289 million judgement and Pilon $7.5 million. But apparently neither can pay and will have to forfeit whatever assets they have. Good riddance to them.
But be wary because there are others out there.
HERE ARE 4 TIPS TO AVOID GETTING SNAGGED BY ONE OF THESE SCHEMES.
- Research the company and the offer. If people are complaining, consider that a red flag and stay away.
- Look at the online or printed signup form carefully. If a box on a form is pre-checked, uncheck it. If you don’t you might be agreeing to something you don’t want.
- Check the time limit of a free trial on your calendar. If you’ve signed up, remember to cancel it before the date it is set to end.
- Review your credit card statements carefully to make sure there are no mystery charges.
If you think you are a victim of a trial offer scam, contact the FTC.