Sorry, you need to enable JavaScript to visit this website.
Skip to main content

As you browse online, you probably see offers to try out cool products or services for free. This can be tempting and, many times, it’s okay to check them out. But some dishonest companies will bury the terms of their “free trial” offers in fine print or not disclose them at all. Their real goal is to rob you blind.

In its lawsuit against AH Media, the FTC says this is how the company took money from more than 100,000 people. AH Media advertised free trials of skin creams and dietary pills, telling people they only had to pay $4.99 in shipping costs to try the products. But, the FTC says, AH Media billed people about $90 for the products two weeks later. On top of that, the company allegedly enrolled these same people — without their knowledge or permission — in a subscription plan for the products...at close to an additional $90 per month. AH Media either didn’t disclose the terms of the “free” offers, hid them in tiny print, or buried them in hyperlinks, according to the FTC’s lawsuit.

But wait…there’s more! When people clicked the large, green “Complete Checkout” button to pay the shipping fee, AH Media allegedly added even more trials and subscriptions to their orders — for yet another $90 or so per month.

If you’re thinking of signing up for a “free” trial offer, keep these tips in mind:

  • Do some research. Search the product and company name online with words like “review,” “complaint,” or “scam” to see what others are saying.
  • Find the terms and conditions for the offer. If you can't find them or can't understand exactly what you're agreeing to – or what you’ll be charged for – don't sign up.
  • Monitor your credit and debit card statements. If you’re charged for something you didn’t order, dispute those charges as soon as you spot them.

Share this video about free trial offers with your friends:

drawing of a man looking at computer screen with a free trial offer advertisement on it

If you’ve been taken by a so-called “free” offer, report it to the FTC.

19 Comments


It is your choice whether to submit a comment. If you do, you must create a user name, or we will not post your comment. The Federal Trade Commission Act authorizes this information collection for purposes of managing online comments. Comments and user names are part of the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) public records system, and user names also are part of the FTC’s computer user records system. We may routinely use these records as described in the FTC’s Privacy Act system notices. For more information on how the FTC handles information that we collect, please read our privacy policy.

The purpose of this blog and its comments section is to inform readers about Federal Trade Commission activity, and share information to help them avoid, report, and recover from fraud, scams, and bad business practices. Your thoughts, ideas, and concerns are welcome, and we encourage comments. But keep in mind, this is a moderated blog. We review all comments before they are posted, and we won’t post comments that don’t comply with our commenting policy. We expect commenters to treat each other and the blog writers with respect.

  • We won’t post off-topic comments, repeated identical comments, or comments that include sales pitches or promotions.
  • We won’t post comments that include vulgar messages, personal attacks by name, or offensive terms that target specific people or groups.
  • We won’t post threats, defamatory statements, or suggestions or encouragement of illegal activity.
  • We won’t post comments that include personal information, like Social Security numbers, account numbers, home addresses, and email addresses. To file a detailed report about a scam, go to ReportFraud.ftc.gov.

We don't edit comments to remove objectionable content, so please ensure that your comment contains none of the above. The comments posted on this blog become part of the public domain. To protect your privacy and the privacy of other people, please do not include personal information. Opinions in comments that appear in this blog belong to the individuals who expressed them. They do not belong to or represent views of the Federal Trade Commission.