Subscription trap: fraudulent online shops rely on a new scam

Dubious online shops often advertise with cheap offers. However, caution is advised, because there are more and more subscription traps lurking.

Advertising with particularly cheap offers are currently being used by questionable online shops as bait for subscription traps. Watchlist Internet draws attention to the fact that specific VIP memberships turn out to be such a cost trap.

Fraudster lures with bargain prices and product variety

With a diverse product selection, such as electronic products , sportswear or pet food at the best offer prices with up to 80 % discount, fraudulent online shops are trying to attract customers bait. However, as it only says in the small print, with the supposed bargain purchase you also automatically sign up for a club membership, which leads to an expensive subscription model.

But even with the promised price reductions, they are products offered in such shops are not really cheaper. As Watchlist Internet explains, a price comparison with corresponding goods in reputable online shops quickly shows that the alleged offers only correspond to the normal price of the products. However, the problem would be less with the misleading pricing. The actual fraud only reveals itself in the conditions under which the products are brought to the customer.

At the same time as making a purchase, one is automatically locked into such fraudulent online shops subscription. Watchlist Internet clarifies:

“Regardless of whether you consent or not , by purchasing a product you become a member of a “VIP Club”. This membership automatically turns into a subscription without customers’ knowledge if they don’t cancel within two days. Club memberships cost consumers dearly. A “credit” is automatically topped up every two weeks. Amounts from 30 to 60 € automatically deducted. You must then redeem this credit in the online shop within a short period of time. You will be urged to buy more products, otherwise the balance (also called credits) will expire and your money will be gone.”

  • Missing button solution leads to subscription trap

    Customers do not even notice immediately when shopping that they have fallen into an expensive subscription trap. There are no clear indications of this in the shops, such as the legally required button solution. “That means the subscription costs must also be listed on or directly next to the button that leads to payment sein. Corresponding credit card statements with unauthorized debits only draw attention to this later.

    Watchlist Internet lists all suspicious online shops and at the same time provides important information for customers who have already fallen victim to such a subscription trap.

    • Challenge the subscription contract: Because the button solution has not been implemented well and there are many misleading websites exist, you can contest the subscription contract. To do this, contact the online shop, terminate the contract in writing and request a refund of the amounts debited.
    • Contact your credit card provider or bank: In any case, you should also contact your payment service provider. Amounts that have been debited from you without your consent (e.g. amounts that were not sufficiently pointed out at the time of purchase or that exceed the value of your order) must, in accordance with § 60 Payment Services Act 2018 refund the payment service provider.
    • Block your card. To ensure that your credit card details are not further misused, we recommend blocking your card and applying for a new one.
    • Report subscription traps: Have you encountered a subscription trap that isn’t on our list? Report this subscription trap via the Watchlist Internet reporting form and protect other consumers from fraud!


  • 2018

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