A Saskatoon woman is sharing a timely story for Fraud Prevention Month.
Sandy Epp spoke with Brent Loucks Wednesday morning.
She said she’s out about $300 after clicking on an advertisement she saw online — she said the ad looked like it was affiliated with Costco and then clicked through to what appeared to be an endorsement from Dragon’s Den, a business-themed reality show.
Epp told Loucks she ordered a pair of beauty products: Image Revive serum and Face Replen cream, under the impression that she was getting free samples.
She said she had to provide her credit card information to cover shipping the product.
“They called it a ‘free sample,’ but they’re actually going as a free trial. And now that you’ve tried it, you have to pay for it,” she said.
Epp said the people behind the ad offered a 12-day grace period to call and cancel to avoid being billed.
“But the 12 days starts on the day you give them your credit card number. So you might have the product for five days, not realizing you have to reach them by phone to cancel,” she said.
But it got worse.
Epp said her efforts to call various phone numbers listed by the company were met with dead air.
“Nobody answers and even, sometimes, SaskTel says: ‘this number is not in service,'” she said.
Epp said her credit card was billed just over $140 for each of the two products.
Bank aware of scam
Epp said her bank was all-too-familiar with the issue.
“They had already known about it, and they knew this company goes by many different names,” she said. They typically use Dragon’s Den and Costco.ca, which people would rely on.”
However, Epp said her bank wasn’t able to help her.
She said she was told she was technically tied into a contract with the company — meaning they would be able to extract payment from her chequing account even if she cancelled her credit card.
Epp said she was distraught, as she was approaching a 30-day mark where the company would send her another batch of product.
“On the exact 30 days, once it goes to 31 they’re charging you.” she said.
Epp said it took hounding the company repeatedly by email to finally get a message stating they’d cancelled her order.
Even with that, she said she won’t be sure her ordeal is over until she gets her next credit card statement.
Costco warns of scammers
Costco has fielded accounts of these types of situations for years, prompting them to put a warning about the issue on the company website.
The company noted it is not in any way affiliated with the type of ad that snared Epp, stating Costco will never ask for money to ship samples.
Costco also stated the only place it will ask customers to enter personal information online is through the official company site.
Fraud Prevention Month is an annual campaign spearheaded by Canada’s Competition Bureau.