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Some “free trials” could cost you time and money. Learn more before you sign up.

You're online and see a chance to try a new skin cream for free. You might think: why not? Well, for starters, that free trial might not be free at all.

That’s what happened with a Puerto Rico-based marketer that advertised “free” skin products for a $4.99 “shipping and handling” fee, according to the FTC. But, says the FTC, what people didn’t know was that they’d be charged if they didn’t cancel in 14 or 15 days. And the company would charge them more than $90 for the cream. And enroll them in monthly subscriptions. And cancelling wasn’t easy, the FTC says.

Now, the marketer will turn over close to a million dollars in assets to the FTC to give partial refunds to affected customers.

Before you accept a free trial offer:

  • Search for the company online. Look up the name with the words “scam” or “complaint” and see what other people are saying about the free trial offers.
  • Look for information on how you can cancel future shipments or services. If you don't want the product or service anymore, how do you cancel? If the process isn’t clear to you, don’t sign up.
  • Watch for pre-checked boxes. Some might give the company permission to keep charging you. Uncheck the box if you don’t agree with what it says.
  • Learn more about getting in and out of auto renewals and negative option subscriptions at

Got a problem with a “free trial”? Dispute unauthorized charges with your credit or debit card immediately and tell the FTC at

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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

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.

Ruth Drummond
October 16, 2023

With ANY online ad, ALWAYS research the company first! Most are in China. Don't believe the comments that express how great the product is! Most are from hacked accounts!

Georgia Trehey
October 16, 2023

Nothing is free. There is always a cost, even if it is hidden.

Mohamed abdela
November 20, 2023


October 16, 2023

Always read the fine print which most don't and if it sounds too good to be true it usually, and almost always, is (a scam).

Geraldine Nelson
October 16, 2023

Very, very good advice.

Ingrid Pope
October 16, 2023

Thanks very good information, everybody is scamming to day at time very hard to see the fine print or deception of what is what.

Oralia Ornelas
October 16, 2023

So many vitamin companies and hair products do exactly the same.

November 17, 2023

Does this include any other skin care free trials that were similar scams such as Almay or SkinGlow? I keep getting calls that I owe them for the 'rest' of the product even after canceling over a year ago.