BOISE, Idaho — You've probably seen the ads all over social media: celebrities seemingly endorsing "miracle" products that will help you lose weight easily, combat wrinkles or whiten teeth. However, these ads often turn out to be fraudulent operations luring consumers.
The Better Business Bureau reports many of the ads try to lure you through "risk-free" trials. The ads look promising, with a celebrity "endorsing" the deals. The claims look plausible, and you assume celebrities would not endorse a product unless they believed it works. While there may be a risk, many of us may think it's worth it since you're promised a free trial. Usually signing up will require entering a name, address and credit card number to order the product.
An in-depth investigative study by BBB found many of the free trial offers are not free. If you locate and read the fine print on the order page, or terms and conditions page buried by a link, you'll discover that you may have only 14 days to receive, evaluate and return the product to avoid being charged $100 or more.
BBB received nearly 7,000 complaints and reports from consumers in the U.S. and Canada about free trial offers in 2019. Free trial scam offers often use fake celebrity endorsement ads on social media and the internet to attract consumers and then lure them to deceptive websites to charge consumers a small shipping and handling fee, usually $4.99 or less, for the “free” trial of products like skin creams or weight loss pills. The true cost of these free trials — ongoing monthly subscription plans — is buried in small print and behind links, if it is disclosed at all.
BBB has found that many of the celebrity endorsements are fake. Dozens of celebrity names are used by these frauds and some are fighting back and letting people know their image is being stolen. The best things for people to do are:
· Research the company before signing up. Many of these companies have “F” ratings with BBB.
· Read all the terms and conditions of any free trial offer. Know if there is a cancellation period and return policy.
· Check the social media accounts of the celebrities the ads claim are endorsing the product to see if they are really backing it.
For more resources to help you protect your identity and money, click here.