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Freebies: Don’t Get Scammed

By Scam Awareness | April 23, 2019

We see them everywhere: "Free Gift with Purchase," "Free Trial," or "Free Giveaway." Freebies are items or services that sellers use for promotional reasons and generally are bait to get you to buy more. And while some freebies are legit, others can be misleading or even outright scams.

The word "free" can be used to lure people into healthcare schemes. Scammers look for ways to steal identities or offer services or equipment not actually covered by your insurance. They advertise "at no cost to you" or "covered by Medicare," bill your insurance and pocket the money - and then leave you with the bill. Also, be aware of unsolicited phone calls from associations that sound similar to existing and reputable organizations. They offer something as free for the cost of shipping just to get your credit card number.

Free trials can also be scams. Words like "miracle", "risk free" and "guaranteed" are red flags. The trial might begin after you've received the item - not when you placed the order - and the company will delay processing, leaving you with little time to receive and test out the item. Before you sign up, do an internet search and read reviews. Put a note on your calendar for when the trial expires and end it before they charge you. Be sure to also check your credit card statements to make sure the trial is cancelled.

Other types of freebie scams include free gift by mail, free airfare, and free timeshares. Freebie scams can even invade social media feeds. For example, Facebook freebie scams involve fake accounts that message you about a free gift for the cost of shipping, then disappear once they've received your credit card number. The bottom line? Never pay for a freebie. Read the fine print and when in doubt, don't do it. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Stay safe!

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