I recently learned about two common scams at a savvy-shopping summit hosted by ShopSmart magazine, a publication by Consumer Reports. Way beyond Nigerian princes begging for money, this stuff could really trick you.
1. Fake endorsement. This one looks like a web ad from a TV station claiming a product, like diet pills, really works, says Federal Trade Commission lawyer Tracey Thomas. What might trick is you the comments from “real” consumers. But the news sites and comments are fake, and Tracy has yet to see any testing to back up the miracle claims.
2. Almost free trial. The second scam Tracey talked about was
an almost free trial offer for another miracle pill or treatment. You get hooked on the super low price, but if you sign up your credit card will be charged for all sorts of stuff you never agreed to, like a monthly club fee and additional products you never agreed to. Want to cancel? They don’t make it easy.
Check out the FTC’s Scam Watch page.
Bonus: Heard of Best Buy’s Optimization Service? Meg Marco from Consumerist, a blog that was purchased by Consumer Reports in 2009, ragged on Best Buy for tacking on a $40 charge for a computer service that is “superficial.” The problem is that when pressed, a salesperson might say they did not have any non-optimized computers in stock, thereby denying the customer the advertised price. Meg was clear Best Buy is not scamming consumers, but was clearly irked by the practice. Note, in Meg’s post on Best Buy she writes that 1 out of 18 secret shoppers were told no pre-optimized computers were available, so it’s unclear how widespread this practice is.
Ever gotten scammed or tricked? Leave a comment or email me your story.