The Royal Bank of Scotland has responded to a spate of so-called free trial scam ads to affect its customers by pinning the blame for their spread on ‘clever advertising and pop ups on social media’.
Since June the bank has intervened on behalf of 37,000 victims of such scams who unwittingly signed up for 30-day ‘free trials’ of beauty products oblivious to a recurring £80 per month fee levied in the small print.
In a statement RBS said: “Clever advertising and pop-ups on social media websites lure customers into what they believe to be a free trial of a cream or tablet.
"They are asked to enter their card details to pay a small fee to cover postage and packaging.
"In reality, by providing their card details and entering the free trial they are agreeing to a recurring subscription, if they do not cancel within the trial period.”
At its peak this scam was netting fraudsters up to £30k per day with 390 victims bombarding RBS call centres struggling to have the charges cancelled. The bank estimates that some £2.9m in charges have been taken from its customers since June.
Anyone offering a subscription deal is legally required to set-out any charges in their terms and conditions but some fraudsters do not reveal their terms until the customer has signed whilst others attempt to camouflage them by obscuring text at the bottom of the page or fading out key details.