Beware of Newspaper and Magazine Subscription Renewal Offers from Third Parties

Business Reply Mail first-class
Image: NCCC
April 20, 2015

North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper is urging North Carolinians who get notices asking them to renew a magazine or newspaper subscription to review those notices carefully.

Consumers who subscribe to magazines and newspapers often get messages urging them to renew their subscriptions, but those renewal offers don't always come from the actual publisher. Independent subscription agents send renewal offers by mail and email, sometimes charging far higher prices than it would cost to renew directly with publications.

"These offers to renew a magazine or newspaper subscription may look legitimate but actually cost you far more money than you need to pay," Cooper cautioned.

Just this week, the North Carolina Attorney General's Financial Fraud Unit sent a civil investigative demand (CID) to Publishers Billing Association, a company that sends subscription renewal notices to consumers. The CID gives the Oregon company until May 7 to produce documents, including information on its sales practices, a list of North Carolina consumers with whom it has done business, and proof of any agreements it claims to have entered into with North Carolina publications.

A total of 16 consumers have filed complaints with the North Carolina Attorney General's Office against Publishers Billing Association over the past few years, with half of those complaints coming in 2014. Consumers filed similar complaints against other companies which investigators are reviewing for possible links to Publishers Billing Association.

Cooper first warned consumers about subscription renewal scams last fall, when a number of North Carolina publications began reporting that their readers were being targeted by unauthorized renewal messages.

If you are considering renewing a subscription to a magazine or newspaper, make sure the renewal offer comes from the company that subscribed you in the first place. To be on the safe side, contact the company directly via information listed in the publication or on its website to see if you are due to renew your subscription. You can also check rates for renewing directly through the magazine or newspaper before you agree to renew through a third party.

Get Connected with Consumer Connections

Stay up-to-date about issues that really matter! Get the Consumer Connections newsletter!

We're committed to providing you with information you need to make you a better, more informed consumer. Whether it's a vehicle recall, a product recall, or a new scam, we feature it in Consumer Connections.

So why not give it a try? Go on. All of your friends are doing it. It's completely free and comes just once a week.

You've finally filled out all the paperwork for a new or used car and drive it off the lot in triumph. Then, only a few hours (or days or weeks) later, the dealer calls you and tells you that you have to return the car because your financing didn't go through. What's going on? Is this legal? No.

According to the scam alert released by the Better Business Bureau (BBB), scammers are targeting unsuspecting consumers across the country by impersonating cable companies and taking advantage of subscribers' eagerness to save money on cable television services.

Do you know how to protect yourself against computer fraud? Most people think they can spot a scam, but scammers are getting better every day. It's now sometimes very difficult to know who is on the other end of the Internet and whether an email or website is truly legitimate.

We use our phones to do all kinds of things. But those who use USB charging stations may want to think twice before checking off the first two items on that list. Security researchers have discovered a way to hack into smartphones using USB stations and view and record everything that is displayed on the screen.