BBB scam alert: Trying CBD? Watch out for tricky free trial offers
Cannabidiol (CBD), an active ingredient of cannabis, is now legal in many US states. If you want to try the drug, watch out for scams. BBB Scam Tracker received dozens of reports from frustrated consumers who thought they signed up for a free trial offer but ended up getting billed for hundreds of dollars.
How the scam works:
You see an ad for CBD on social media or in an online search. A company is offering samples of CBD oil. All you need to do is pay a couple dollars for shipping and handling, and you can try it for free. In some cases, the product is even endorsed by a celebrity. For example, recent Scam Tracker reports mention popular ministers Joyce Meyer and Joel Osteen.
Sounds great, right? Unfortunately, if you order the “free” sample, the scammers now have your credit card number. As soon after you receive your sample – if you receive it at all – you are charged $80 to $100 for an ongoing monthly subscription. Cancelling this subscription is not easy! Consumers report that scammers used numerous excuses to avoid issuing refunds. They claimed everything from trouble with the computer system to it being outside the cancellation window. Many victims also told Scam Tracker that the charges continued even after they cancelled their subscription.
“You don’t find out until 3 weeks later that you have signed up for a subscription and you are charged $99,” one victim reported to Scam Tracker. “They will not refund your money. They say you had 14 days to cancel (when you call them to complain) but there is no description of that on the website.”
Tips for avoiding this scam:
- Research the company online. See what other people are saying about the company’s free trials. Complaints from other customers can tip you off to “catches” that might come with the trial. Check the business’s BBB Rating and see if there are any alerts.
- Understand what happens after the free trial ends. Always read the terms of the offer before signing up. Numerous victims of the CBD free trial con reported not ever seeing the terms and conditions. This is a huge red flag. If you can’t find them or can’t understand what you’re agreeing to, don’t sign up.
- Be skeptical of celebrity endorsements. Resist being swayed by the use of a well-known name. Scammers often fake celebrity endorsements.
- Report losses to credit card companies. If you pay with a credit card, you can dispute fraudulent charges. Keep an eye on your monthly statements and notify your credit card company of any suspicious charges.
For more information:
Stay one step ahead of scammers by subscribing to BBB’s weekly Scam Alert emails.
If you’ve been a victim of free trial offer scam, please report your experience at BBB.org/ScamTracker. By doing so you can help others to avoid falling prey to scammers.
About the BBB serving Central Virginia:
BBB serving Central Virginia serves Richmond, the Tri-Cities, Charlottesville, and Fredericksburg, as well as 42 surrounding counties from Fauquier to Mecklenburg and Northumberland to Amherst. The nonprofit organization was established in 1954 to advance responsible, honest, and ethical business practices and to promote customer confidence through self-regulation of business. Core services of BBB include business profiles, dispute resolution, truth-in advertising, scam warnings, consumer and business education, and charity review.