Nowadays, buyers may prefer to find deals online, but when it comes to newspapers and magazines, many still prefer print subscriptions – and fraudsters see this as an opportunity.
Magazine subscription scams are offered either online, door to door, or as a variation of telemarketing theft where false, pretending to be telemarketers persuade consumers into paying subscriptions for magazines they don’t want, can not afford or even don’t know of.
The fake magazine subscription may be presented to you with a language so slick you don’t even know you have purchased several magazine subscriptions until you receive your monthly bill.
Magazine Subscription Variations
Deceptive marketers will select a popular and well-known magazine that could be of interest to you. The annual subscription to that magazine is priced at the rate chosen by the publishers.
Potential subscribers will be misled into thinking that they were being offered the lowest rate available for the publication. When the marketer contacts you, they will claim to be the publisher and ask you for an overpriced annual renewal.
They could select any kind of magazine, so they will usually try to find out about your interests prior to calling you. This can be done through social media or other databases if they have your name and address.
You will be tricked into filling out a form and pay. The perpetrators will then take this money and possibly phish you for your personal information on their website and attempt to steal your identity.
You may be asked to provide financial information, such as your credit card number either for “verification” purposes or to make the transaction. A big mistake if you do that on an unknown website, since your financial information may be misused for unauthorized purchases or simply to empty your bank accounts.
The real magazine will actually be paid for and the overpaid amount will be pocketed. This scam works well because the subscribers still receive the paper magazine and may not notice anything wrong.
Fake Renewal Notice
A consumer will receive mail asking him for a subscription renewal. The victim may actually be subscribed to the magazine for which the renewal is claimed. The notice may as well be for a new subscription as opposed to a renewal. In order to subscribe or resubscribe you either need to write a check or wire the money to a bank account. What happens after is the money goes to the fraudsters account. Your subscription money did not go to the official source.
When you contact the magazine you recognize they have no working relationship with whoever sent you that letter. You wish to call the renewal company, however they don’t have a person taking calls or answering emails.
How To Avoid Fake Subscriptions
If you receive an offer for a magazine or newspaper subscription offer that you are potentially interested in, these steps will protect you from possible fraud:
- Check new subscription offers. Regardless of whether the offers seem to come directly from the publisher or from a third party, take the time to check their validity by visiting or calling the publisher’s website. You can also conduct a search using the names of third-party providers, which may reveal complaints.
- Take a close look at the details in renewal offers. If it’s an offer to renew an existing subscription, it should include your subscription number and the expiration date, which should match the one on the publication’s label.
- Check the terms and conditions. Some fraudulent subscription offers contain terms and conditions that legitimate publishers would not impose, such as fines for canceling subscriptions or fees for placing the order. If you see these red flags, keep your distance.
- If you’re being asked to review a free issue to see whether you like it or not, be careful. After you agreed on the free review you may be sent an invoice that you may cancel or in case you like it, continue. Some companies misuse this and you are charged for the supposed “free issue” before you canceled the subscription
The best way to avoid the fraud is to subscribe with official sources only. Upon receiving that cold call, email or letter, put it aside and take your time to evaluate the offer. Don’t be pressured into anything. Then go directly to the official website and order from there. Disregard the phone numbers and addresses you have received in your mail, email or phone call.