How to spot a bogus discount when buying CBD online

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Cannabidiol (CBD), an active ingredient in cannabis, is now legal in many US states and Canadian provinces. If you want to try it, watch out for scams. BBB Scam Tracker has received dozens of reports from frustrated consumers who thought they purchased discounted CBD online, but ended up with hundreds of dollars in credit card charges.

How the scam works:

You see an advertisement for CBD on social media or in an online search. A company is offering new customers a deep discount on CBD gummies. For example, a common scam offers a “buy one, get one free” offer. In some cases, the product appears to be endorsed by a celebrity. For example, recent Scam Tracker reports mention the TV show Shark Tank, actors Kevin Costner and Mayim Bialik, and journalist Katie Couric.

Sounds good, right? Unfortunately, if you order the gummies at a discount, the scammers now have your credit card number. Victims report being charged for additional bottles or ongoing monthly subscriptions that they never accepted. Other victims report being randomly charged for products they never received.

Once the scammers have your credit card information, canceling is not easy! Consumers report that scammers have used many excuses to avoid issuing refunds. They claimed everything from problems with the computer system outside of the cancellation window. Many victims have also told Scam Tracker that the charges continue even after they cancel their subscription.

A victim said he received threatening calls posing as the CBD company’s collection department nearly a year after his order was cancelled. “Today I received a second phone call saying I was in collections with them, should have read the fine print and had to cancel within 2 weeks of the initial response or I was on the hook. They told me it was the ‘climbing service’ and that I owed them money. The woman was extremely rude and aggressive, kept talking over me and threatening me I have never heard from this company via email or post since I originally responded over a year ago – no additional product received either.”

Tips to avoid this scam:

  • Research the company online. Find out what other people are saying about the company’s free trials. Complaints from other customers can point you to “gotchas” that might come with the trial. Check the company’s BBB rating and see if there are any alerts.
  • Understand what happens after the free trial ends. Always read the terms of the offer before signing up. Many victims of the CBD free trial scam said they never saw the terms and conditions. It’s a huge red flag. If you can’t find them or don’t understand what you’re agreeing to, don’t sign up.
  • Beware of celebrity endorsements. Resist being swayed by using a well-known name. Scammers often fake celebrity endorsements.
  • Report losses to credit card companies. If you pay with a credit card, you can dispute fraudulent charges. Keep an eye on your monthly statements and notify your credit card company of any suspicious charges.

Source: BBB.org

Read BBB’s special report on free trial offer scams. Learn more about social media advertising scams.

Stay ahead of the scammers by subscribing to BBB’s weekly scam alert emails.

If you have been the victim of a free trial offer scam, please report your experience at BBB.org/ScamTracker. By doing so, you can help others avoid falling prey to scammers.

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