Subscription scams

You thought you were enjoying a great offer on a website but you realized now that you are paying a monthly subscription

A free sample for which you just have to pay the shipping costs? Join a website for only a dollar? These are very attractive offers, isn’t it? In order to enjoy these offers, you simply have to give your credit card number for the payment of the low amount of money requested. But behind these advantageous proposals hide what is called subscription scams.

Indeed, you realize a few days later that your bank account was debited another amount of money,. This amount is much greater than the amount that was originally asked. Surprised, you contact the website manager. He replies that when you accepted the initial offer, you have agreed to subscribe to a monthly subscription!

You reply that this was not planned when you made the first order. But the website point out to you that the monthly paying subscription was written in small lines at the bottom of the General Term and Conditions (GTC). Although angry, you can only recognize that the subscription was written on the website!

But the way the website proceeds is illegal.

For two reasons :

  • Misleading commercial practice, that many country around the world forbid and punish by prison
  • Unauthorized payment transaction, also forbidden by most countries.

In fact, scammers take advantage of the low amount of the initial offer (often a couple of dollars) to get your credit card number. Then they make monthly withdrawals from your credit card. After discovering the scam, crooks will try to intimidate you. Don’t be impressed !


When buying a product on the Internet, you normally see and confirm your basket before proceeding to payment. Everything you are about to buy must be clearly shown.

By putting the subscription in small characters at the bottom of the GTC, the website manager is not meeting this requirement. He is clearly processing to a misleading commercial practice

For the second offense, in most country, the law states that the credit card holder must give his agreement in order to proceed to a purchase. By proceeding to monthly payment, the website manager is not respecting the law.

However, if you did have subscribed to an offer where it was clearly stated that you give your credit card number to pay monthly subscriptions, no way to invoke the law. You cannot ask for a refund in that case.

Finally, note that in some countries banks are asked by law to refund their costumers in case of unauthorized use of credit card. Some banks can also offer protection to their costumer for these scams. You should check your contract to see if such protection is offered.

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