Magazine Subscription Scams

by Chris Bjorklund

The Federal Trade Commission (, the nation's consumer protection agency, wants consumers to beware of telephone sales pitches for magazine subscriptions. While some offers may be legitimate, many are not. Agreeing to buy could result in years of monthly bills for magazines you don't want or could have gotten elsewhere for less. Or, you could end up paying for a magazine you never receive at all. How do you know if an offer is a scam? Words like "free" and "pre-paid" should alert you. And the caller may try to get your guard down by saying he or she is just calling to conduct a survey. To protect yourself: * Don't give your credit card or other personal information to any caller, ever. * Don't agree to anything you don't get in writing first. In some states, you're legally bound to pay for a subscription if you agree to it over the phone. * Before you accept an offer to renew a subscription, check the expiration date to determine if it really is coming up. (Check the mailing label. Or, better yet, call the publisher to verify and to confirm that the caller is actually authorized to renew your subscription.) * Tell the caller to put you on the company's "do not call list." If you get another call, hang up and report it to your state attorney general ( and the FTC. * Watch your credit card statements closely, and dispute unauthorized charges immediately. * Also beware of magazine subscriptions sold door-to-door.