People in Lichfield and Burntwood are being warned not to fall into so-called subscription traps.

Signing up for a subscription online

Trading Standards officers in Staffordshire say that with people looking to get healthier in the New Year, many may fall victim to scammers.

The schemes often involve signing up for low-cost or free trials only to then find they are locked into expensive repeat payments.

Officials say health foods, anti-aging products and mobile phones are among the areas where scammers will look to trap people by using the continuous payment authority provided by banks, allowing them to draw monthly fees.

Cllr Victoria Wilson, cabinet member with responsibility for Trading Standards at Staffordshire County Council, said the ongoing payments were often hidden in lengthy terms and conditions – and cancelling was often a difficult process.

“In recent years we’ve seen a real increase in the popularity of subscriptions and it can be anything from gym membership to a TV channel or health products to e-books.

“Subscription traps affect millions of people in the UK each year. One issue that officers have experienced recently is where people sign up for a fixed term deal, trial or promotion where it is unclear that the consumer will be auto-enrolled into ongoing payments.

“This is where knowing your consumer rights is vital. It means you’ll know what to look out for and be able to make a more informed decision about your purchase.

“And remember, if a deal sounds too good to be true, it generally is.” 

Cllr Victoria Wilson, Staffordshire County Council

Residents are reminded to read the small print, make sure they keep a copy or screenshot of any advertisement or sign up page and check bank statements regularly for unexpected payments.

People can find out more about what do if they get caught in a subscription trap by visiting the Citizens Advice website or calling 03454 04 05 06.

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