It found that 2 million have had a request to cancel their credit card payments declined – and that a shocking 84% did not realise they had signed up to the subscription in the first place!
A subscription trap is where someone is tricked into signing up for a costly monthly subscription – usually for a health or beauty related product. The offer is usually a free trial of the product and all you have to pay is a small fee for postage and packing.
The reason for this fee is to obtain your card details. Hidden deep in the terms and conditions is a clause which states that if you do not cancel within the trial period, you will be auto-enrolled into a regular subscription. You could end up paying up to £99 per payment. The products themselves may not be genuine either and sometimes they do not even turn up.
Be wary of unexpected pop-ups: several subscription traps make use of pop-ups which appear while you are browsing a site that you trust. This may then link you to a website promoting the subscription trap and could make it look like it is linked to the trusted site.
Resist pressurising tactics: subscription trap websites often use wording such as “act now to get this time limited offer” to encourage you into making a decision without thinking it through. Don’t let yourself be rushed by pushy marketing.
Don’t always believe endorsements: adverts for subscription traps often use celebrity endorsements or “reviews” from the press. These may not have the consent of the celebrity involved.
Always check terms and conditions: it is always worth checking if you can easily find the terms and conditions when signing up to something online. If you can’t, don’t sign up!
Try to cancel the payments: subscription traps typically use a payment method called a Continuous Payment Authority or CPA. You set this up by giving a trader your card details. It is your right to cancel a CPA with either the trader or your bank/card issuer. If your bank asks you to contact the trader, tell them this is not necessary or that you have already done so and not been successful – whichever applies. If you do cancel the CPA with your card issuer it is still good practice to inform the trader – it’s best to do this in writing, use recorded delivery and keep a copy. You can find more information at
A future payment on your debt or credit card
Chargeback claims: Many credit cards offer protection on your purchases. Contact your bank saying you want to start a chargeback claim. Most card issuers have a time limit to do this in – typically 120 days.
Section 75: If you paid more than £100 on a credit card you are protected by Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974. Again, contact your card issuer to start a claim. Both chargeback and Section 75 claims may not always be successful as the trader can contest the claim. The key thing to communicate to the bank is that the true costs were not made clear to you when you agreed to the purchase.
If you still need help: call the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 03454 040506 or contact us at Citizens Advice Surrey Heath.