A Renewal of Subscription Renewal Scams

Magazines and newspapers

Like reading home-delivered newspapers and magazines? Pay close attention to invoices that claim to start or renew your subscriptions.

In an old scam that has recently been, ahem ... renewed, third-party companies are mailing bogus subscription invoices that purport to be "on behalf  of" well-known publishers. Problem is, the firms may not be working with publishers as claimed.

Several leading publishers have recently been hit in this scam, which aims to get you to make payments directly to the outside company, not to the publication itself, as is usually requested with legitimate subscriptions. Once that's done, the expected magazines and newspapers don't arrive and upon contacting the publishers, you learn it was all a scam. Meanwhile, phone calls and emails to the billing bilkers requesting a refund are ignored.

In recent weeks, Dow Jones & Company, which publishes The Wall Street Journal and Barron's magazine, issued a warning about deceptive subscription notices for those titles by companies using the names National Magazine Services, Orbital Publishing and Publisher's Billing Exchange.

The Nation has also been targeted, with some two dozen phony companies claiming to be handling its renewals.

And the Better Business Bureau recently warned about a Nevada-based company called Associated Publishers Network (APN) that has allegedly bilked consumers nationwide with phony renewal notices for various publications, including the New York Times.

Officials from APN and other companies accused of scamming subscribers could not be reached for comment.

Your best defense: Whenever starting or renewing a subscription, expect that payment should be made directly to the publication name. Some publishers do use legitimate third-party companies to handle payments, but before paying them anything, vet their legitimacy by calling the publication yourself, relying on phone numbers printed in its pages (usually on or near the staff box page) - not numbers on notices you receive in the mail.

Photo: Sean Winters/Flickr.com


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