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Free stuff can cost you

We all love freebies, until it ends up costing us. Here's how to make sure free really means free.

SAN ANTONIO — The best things in life are free, right? What is not always free are free trial offers that turn into surprise charges. 

Free trials can sometimes include what is called “negative option terms.” That means if you do not cancel by a certain date, you can be charged for the product or service. Sometimes it is also hard to tell when you need to cancel by so you do not get charged. Other times a company offering a free trial might sign you up for other products you do not want.

Keep these tips from the Federal Trade Commission in mind before you take advantage of any free offers:

1. Do some research. Search the product and company name online along with words like “review, complaint or scheme." Find out what others’ experience was.

2. Find and read the terms and conditions of the offer. Do not sign up if you have trouble finding them, do not understand what you are agreeing to, or do not know when you will be charged.

3. Uncheck any prechecked boxes when you order your free trial. A checked box could give the company permission to sign you up for other products. 

4. Mark your calendar if you decide to take a free trial offer. Know the day you need to cancel by so you do not get unexpected charges.

5. Look at your credit card statements. You will be able to see immediately if you are being charged for something you did not order.

If you get unexpected charges from the free trial offer, call the company to see if it can fix the problem. Next, call your credit card company if that does not work. Dispute the charge. See if the credit card will reverse the charge because you did not order the additional product or service.

If you have a question for Eyewitness Wants To Know, email us at EWTK@kens5.com or call us as 210-377-8647.