The Little Black Book of Scams: 'free' subscription offers can quickly lead to payment obligations that are very hard to get out of

The Little Black Book of Scams: 'free' subscription offers can quickly lead to payment obligations that are very hard to get out of

This is the ninth chapter in the Little Black Book of Scams.


Good deals can bait you into falling for expensive traps.

A subscription trap can trick you by offering “free” or “low-cost” trials of products and services.

Products commonly offered are weight loss pills, health foods, pharmaceuticals and anti-ageing products.

Once you provide your credit card information to cover shipping costs, you are unknowingly locked into a monthly subscription. Delivery and billing can then be difficult, if not almost impossible, to stop.

Scammers use websites, emails, social media platforms and phones to reel people in. Remember, high-pressure sales tactics like a “limited time offer” are often used to rush you into making a decision.

Tips to protect yourself

Trust your instincts. If it’s too good to be true, don’t sign up.

✔ Before you sign up for a free trial, research the company and read reviews, especially the negative ones. Consumer Protection is a great source of information.

Don’t sign up if you can’t find or understand the terms and conditions. Pay special attention to pre-checked boxes, cancellation clauses, return policies, and any vague charges.

✔ If you go ahead with a free trial, keep all documents, receipts, emails, and text messages.

✔ Regularly check your credit card statements for frequent or unknown charges.

✔ If you have trouble cancelling your subscription, contact your credit card provider or your local consumer protection organisation.


Always report all scams.


*The full booklet is here. This chapter is re-posted with permission. You can also watch a video interview with the Commission for Financial Capability's fraud education manager Bronwyn Groot here.

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