FTC Sues Companies for Sending Fake Newspaper Renewal Notices
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FTC Sues Companies for Sending Fake Newspaper Renewal Notices

More than 375 publications have ordered the companies to stop sending notices without authorization

May 3, 2016

Did you get a newspaper or magazine subscription renewal notice in the mail? Make sure it came from an official source.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is suing the operators of dozens of companies for sending fake notices to consumers.

According to the complaint, the companies sent consumers renewal mailers for subscriptions to newspapers such as the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and other big-name brands. The notices claim that the subscriptions will automatically renew and that the price is authorized by the publisher.

The companies, however, did not have the publishers' authorization and more than 375 publications have demanded that the companies stop sending notices. Publications have gone as far as posting warning notices and filing cease and desist paperwork.

Consumers often paid up to 40 percent more than what the newspaper would typically charge, sometimes paying twice for their subscription. Consumers who paid complained of delays in receiving their publications or received the wrong subscriptions. Some tried to cancel payment or get refunds, but found it hard to reach customer service. Those that did, often received no refund or only a partial refund. Only those that complained to the Better Business Bureau or state or federal law enforcement found success.

The operators of the companies created shell corporations to process and submit orders paying the publishers' normal subscription rate and pocketed the additional amount.