How free are free trials?

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Believe it or not – holiday shopping season is already here! And that comes with many retailers offering deals on items in store and online.

Consumer Reports is warning that a lot of free trials out there actually end up costing you a lot of money.

How? Let’s connect the dots. You have probably seen the offers online – miracle skin creams, diet pills or vitamins you can try for no charge. But increasingly consumers are telling the Better Business Bureau they are getting charged and often signed up for expensive subscriptions they don’t even want.

The other problem is when they go to dispute the charges or cancel the subscription, contact information for the company is nowhere to be found. The BBB says the scam is getting more widespread thanks to social media – not just influencers peddling problem products, but also shady companies straight up stealing a celebrity’s identity to post a fake endorsement.

Experts recommend checking online reviews first – make sure you know how to cancel before clicking “buy” and make screen grabs of your transactions. If there is a problem, try to get in touch with the company but if that’s a dead end, file a dispute with your credit card company.

A reminder: if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

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