PINELLAS COUNTY. FL (WFLA) – Scammers are targeting women by using “Fixer Upper” star Joanna Gaines. A fake ad is spreading across social media and putting consumers at risk.
Linda Hetrick of Clearwater saw the ad online, claiming Gaines was leaving the show to start a cosmetic line.
“I thought well, if she’s going to give up a lucrative career on TV for cosmetics, it must really be good,” said Hetrick.
The ad sent her to a link for free samples of Bella Dior Products.
“It was absolutely free, all I had to do was pay for shipping and handling,” she said.
Hetrick signed up and received the products, but several weeks later, she got a call from her bank warning about additional charges on her account.
“They said that it had been stopped by fraud alert because there had been so many other people that had these similar charges,” said Hetrick. “That’s a monthly charge and you know, for almost $180. That’s a lot for me to spend on cosmetics.”
Gaines herself took to her blog to warn her fans about the ad.
She told them not to believe everything you read, she’s not leaving the show, nor is she staring a cosmetic line and to not buy the facial cream.
WFLA called the company, but was told to email customer service for a response.
Pinellas County Consumer Protection investigators said buyers must read the fine print and terms of agreement.
“Don’t be shy about asking questions and definitely take your time, compare things, research products. If it’s too good to be true, usually it is,” said Anna Marie Millett.
Dozens have also complained to the Better Business Bureau.
Representatives wrote an ad review about the company, which list nine alternate business names.
The BBB has given Bella Dior an F rating.
BBB says beware of online ads for “free-trial” offers with these tips:
- Find the terms and conditions for the offer. That includes offers online, on TV, in the newspaper, or on the radio. If you can’t find them or can’t understand exactly what you’re agreeing to, don’t sign up.
- Look for who’s behind the offer. Just because you’re buying something online from one company doesn’t mean the offer or ad isn’t from someone else.
- Watch out for pre-checked boxes.If you sign up for a free trial online, look for already-checked boxes. That check mark may give the company the green light to continue the offer past the free trial or sign you up for more products – only this time you have to pay.
- Mark your calendar.Your free trial probably has a time limit. Once it passes without you telling the company to cancel your “order,” you may be on the hook for more products.
- Look for info on how you can cancel future shipments or services.If you don’t want them, do you have to pay? Do you have a limited time to respond?
- Read your credit and debit card statements.This will help you to know right away if you are being charged for something you didn’t order. If you see charges you didn’t agree to, contact the company directly to sort out the situation. If that doesn’t work, call your credit card company to dispute the charge. Ask the credit card company to reverse the charge because you didn’t actively order the additional merchandise.