Many apps, subscriptions and other services are happy for you to try out their wares for free for a limited period. However, you’ll likely have to enter your credit card information before you start, meaning you always risk making a payment if you forget to cancel before the end of the trial.
Free Trial Surfing (via the BBC and TechRadar) offers a solution to this. Part of the fine-challenging app DoNotPay, it works by generating a fake name and credit card number for each user, allowing them access to a service without using their own financial information while automatically cancelling the trial when it comes to an end, avoiding any accidental payments. The false details are provided by an unknown bank working with the app’s developer Josh Browder, and registered in the name of his app.
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The app also handles emails sent by the company to the user and forwards them on to the user’s real email address. While giving away your email isn’t going to cost you a monthly fee, keeping these addresses hidden will probably save you from marketing emails, or possibly even data breaches in the worst case.
Browder says that you can’t use these card details to pay for anything, avoiding potential abuse of the system. He adds that the only way that service providers can work around this system is if they stop supporting all of the issuing bank’s customers, which he says would be a bad idea given its size, or if they stopped issuing free trials altogether.
Free Trial Surfing is currently available on the Apple App Store, with an early access Android version and a web version apparently in the works too. You can already access it in the US, where it has around 10,000 users since it launched six weeks ago, but it is being released this week in the UK too. It’s currently free to use, though Browder says that he might charge a subscription fee of his own for using the service.