LAFAYETTE, La. (KLFY)- With many people staying at home due to COVID-19 and spending more time on the internet, chances are they will encounter fake “free trial offer” scams.
“You have a lot more time to spend time on the internet and doing different things, maybe creating some new hobbies,” Chris Babin, with the Better Business Bureau of Acadiana, said. “Scammers are taking advantage of that, and offering free trials for different products or services that aren’t actually free trials for that, but they’re actually a scam to steal your financial or personal identifiable information.”
The Better Business Bureau said free trial offer scams have stolen millions of dollars from Americans.
“With the COVID-19 pandemic currently going on, it’s an opportunity for scammers to create fake free trial ads that direct you to a website to steal your information or pretend as though they need you to pay some small shipping fee so that they can send you the product,” explained Babin.
Free trial offers are not illegal. However, the BBB has received reports scammers are using social media to offer bogus free Netflix services.
“We’ve seen scammers duplicate Netflix ads and steal information or some type of video streaming, like a Zoom video conference call,” added Babin. “Different ones that typically charge money, scammers are duplicating those ads pretending as though they’re going to offer you a free trial.”
Experts say scammers are likely phishing for personal information or to distribute malware on your device.
“They duplicate and replicate brands that we already have some trust in, and then they’ve even started using celebrities and their faces or videos of them acting as though they’re endorsing a product that they’ve created, when in reality, that’s not it,” Babin said.
Some tips from the Better Business Bureau of Acadiana on how you can protect yourself from these scams:
- Examine online free trial offers carefully
- Resist being swayed by the phony use of a well-known name
- Report losses to credit card companies