Risk-free? Not so much.

What do bogus government grants, business opportunities, and free trial offers have in common? According to the FTC, they were all part of an elaborate scheme that cost consumers more than $275 million dollars. 

The FTC complaint alleges that an operation calling itself I Works promised people free or risk-free information about government grants or money-making opportunities — if they would just pay a small fee for shipping and handling. But instead of a small, one-time fee of a few dollars, I Works charged people reoccurring fees of up to $59 per month. Generally, people discovered these charges only after they received their bank or credit card statements.

Today, the FTC announced that two key players in the I Works scheme have agreed to settle FTC charges. They will be banned from marketing certain types of products and services in the future.

Lots of “free trial” programs come with catches — expensive catches. Here are some tips to help you avoid hidden charges that could add up over time.

 

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