Study shows new trends in consumer fraud
COLUMBIA - The Better Business Bureau is warning people about some new trends in scams and offering advice on spotting consumer fraud.
A new study examines subscription traps, deceptive free trials and fake celebrity endorsements.
Free trial offers have trapped consumers into costly subscriptions and recurring payments they never intended to make.
The offers come with information hidden in the fine print that's often overlooked by the consumer.
BBB St. Louis President and CEO Michelle L. Corey said it's important for consumers to read the terms and conditions for internet offers.
She said, "Free trial offers relying on deception have infested the internet, especially with social media."
When people purchase products through a fraudulent subscription, the company will use fulfillment companies to ship the products and presumably accept returns.
These companies will also take credit and debit cards as the only form of payment. They will also use poor customer service to discourage people from getting a refund.
More and more scammers are targeting young adults by using these particular tactics.
The regional director of mid-Missouri's BBB, Michelle Gleba, said a lot of these scams are geared towards a younger demographic through social media.
She said, "Millenials are on social media more than older adults and scammers know this."
In addition, the study showed many of the products that are advertised on social media usually have false celebrity endorsements attached to them.
In the case of the free trial offers, scammers would use pictures of celebrities and claim they've tried a particular product or service. Some companies have admitted to using false endorsements.