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

How the scam works:

You see an ad for CBD on social media or in an online search. A company is offering new customers a significant discount on CBD gummies. For example, one common scam offers a buy-one-get-one-free deal. In some cases, the product seems 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 great, right? Unfortunately, if you order the discounted gummies, the scammers now have your credit card number. Victims report being charged for extra bottles or ongoing monthly subscriptions that they never agreed to. Other victims report being charged random amounts for products they never received.

Once scammers have your credit card information, cancelling is not easy! Consumers report that scammers used numerous excuses to avoid issuing refunds. They claimed everything from trouble with the computer system to it being outside the cancellation window. Many victims also told Scam Tracker that the charges continued even after they cancelled their subscription.  

One victim reported getting threatening calls posing as the CBD company’s collections department nearly a year after cancelling their order. “Today, I received a 2nd phone call saying I was in collections with them, that I should have read the small print and that I had to cancel within 2 weeks of initial response or I was on the hook. They told me it was the ‘escalation department,’ and that I owed them money. The woman was extremely rude and aggressive, continued to speak over me, and threatening. I have never heard from this company by email or mail since I initially responded more than a year ago – no additional product has been received either.” 

Tips for avoiding this scam:

  • Research the company online. See what other people are saying about the company’s free trials. Complaints from other customers can tip you off to “catches” that might come with the trial. Check the business’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. Numerous victims of the CBD free trial con reported not ever seeing the terms and conditions. This is a huge red flag.  If you can’t find them or can’t understand what you’re agreeing to, don’t sign up.
  • Be skeptical of celebrity endorsements. Resist being swayed by the use of 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 scams on social media advertising.

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