Free-trial scams cost RBS customers £30k a day

9 February 2015

Free trial scams have duped RBS customers out of £2.9 million, or £30,000 each day, since last June.

At its worst point, RBS was fielding more than 390 calls a day from customers worried about unrecognised charges on their account – many of which were for around £80 a month.

The bank estimates that since last June, scams have cost customers more than £30,000 each day.

Online scams such as those offering miracle weight loss cures or muscle gain are catching out thousands of consumers by promising a free trial, only to carry on taking funds from the customer’s account each month as they don’t realise they are signing up for a recurring subscription.

Often the terms and conditions that set out the monthly payments are hidden at the bottom of webpages and in some cases are actually only accessible after the customer has signed up.

In effort to protect its customers, RBS has now raised the issue of such scams with Visa, MasterCard and Cards UK and provided them with details about firms that are causing regular complaints.

This has led to more than 1,000 companies having their acquirer relationship terminated since last week, leaving them unable to process payments.

Raise awareness

 Terry Lawson, head of fraud at RBS, said: "Too many of our customers have fallen victim to these scams. We want to help raise awareness so that both our customers, and the wider public, are aware of these scams and look out for unclear or confusing terms and conditions. If any of our customers think they have accidentally entered into an agreement we’d urge them to contact us so we can help cancel any future payments."

If you think you have been a victim, contact your bank immediately. It will be able to cancel all future payments to the scam firm.

Tips for dealing with free trial scams

1. Make sure you fully read the terms and conditions of what you are signing up to. If you can't see them or there aren't any, don't give the company your bank details.
2. If you think you have been scammed, try to contact the business and explain you weren't told about the monthly repayments. This might prove fruitless but your bank will expect you to have tried.
3. Speak to your bank. If you tell it to put a stop on a continuous payment authority, it must do so. Don't be deterred by incorrect information given out by a cashier.
4. If your bank doesn't resolve the issue, then speak to the Financial Ombudsman Service. It will remind the bank of its responsibilities regarding CPAs and help put a stop to further payments.

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