JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Better Business Bureau of Northeast Florida says it has received many calls about a printed piece that appeared in a local publication recently.
The piece appears to be an article titled, "U.S. Department of Interior urges citizens to carry cellphones," but halfway through it transitions into an advertisement targeting seniors by offering them a free cellphone.
Action News took the advertisement to Mike Jorgensen, a Jacksonville-based attorney who specializes in senior issues.
"It's extremely troublesome because this is an ad that I could fall for," he said at first glance.
Jorgensen says deceptive advertising techniques are getting more and more sophisticated. "We see people lose millions and millions all the time with scams like this."
The BBB say the fine print is really a high pressure sales tactic, with an expensive catch. In its own investigation it found the ad offers seniors a free phone if they call within 48 hours, but then charges them $97 pr more in various fees. The BBB says it traced the ad to an Ohio-based company that has an "F" rating with the BBB, with hundreds of complaints in its past.
The BBB is now warning consumers of all ages to beware. Jorgensen says consumers should always check a new company's references and never succumb to high pressure sales tactics.
He also suggests that consumers not give out their personal information and review contracts carefully with a trusted loved one. Jorgensen says it's difficult to prosecute those who create deceptive advertisements because they are often produced by companies that go in and out of business before they can be prosecuted.
"I wish we had better state laws to protect consumers. Until then, use your best judgement and if something looks too good to be true, it probably is."