Magazines-Stack of Red Magazines gde1344344_640One thing that financial writers recommend when you’re having money problems is to review your subscriptions. Sometimes subscriptions that you aren’t using anymore keep renewing or you didn’t realize you had signed up for one.

“Negative option” programs include subscription services that automatically renew unless the consumer cancels, and trial marketing programs that charge a reduced fee for an initial period and then automatically begin charging a higher fee.

“Consumers shouldn’t have to jump through hoops to cancel subscriptions they don’t want, and they shouldn’t have to worry about a trial marketing offer turning into an unwanted monthly charge,” said Rohit Chopra, director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau or CFPB.

The CFPB has made it clear that misleading consumers about products or subscription services they don’t want isn’t only dishonest, but also a violation of law, Chopra said.

The CFPB has taken the following action against:

  • Transunion for repeatedly breaking the lawby violating a CFPB consent order and for deceptive marketing when selling credit scores, reports, and credit monitoring products.
  • ACTIVE Network for tricking consumers into enrolling into a costly membership clubthrough the use of “digital dark patterns.”
  • Numerous credit card issuers for deceptively marketing optional “add-on” productsthat charged recurring fees until consumers cancelled. 

The CFPB and the Federal Trade Commission are continuing to receive complaints from consumers about being charged for products or services they didn’t intend to buy or want to cancel. The agencies are warning consumers about these dark patterns.

Don’t let it happen to you. Even if you’re not having money problems, it’s a good idea to review your subscriptions to make sure you want to continue to pay for them and you aren’t paying for some you don’t want or didn’t know about.


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Rita Robison Consumer & Personal Finance Journalist

For more than two decades, Rita R. Robison has been a consumer and personal finance journalist making her living by finding the best bargains, calling out the crooks, and advocating for regular people just like you and me. In that time, Robison has talked to so many people who feel like their money just isn’t getting them what they want, where they want to be, or the life they thought it would.

The purpose of her blog is to help you get what you want from your money. Robison covers financial goals, budgets, debt reduction, saving, smart choices for buying goods and services, and retirement planning. You’ll also find articles on safety, such as avoiding scams, looking out for rip off companies, and getting informed on the latest recalls.

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