Each year, many Missourians call the Attorney General's Consumer Protection Hotline to complain about magazine solicitations.
Unscrupulous magazine telemarketers trick consumers into paying hundreds of dollars for multiyear subscriptions to magazines they don't want or can't afford.
Fraudulent sellers make presentations so slick that consumers often are unaware they have purchased several magazine subscriptions until they receive the bill.
Some deceptive salespeople avoid identifying themselves as magazine subscription salespeople or fail to give their names or the names of their companies. Others encourage consumers to make purchases without giving the total costs.
Some callers ask for a credit card or bank account number for "verification" purposes. They then use the credit card number to charge unwanted subscriptions or use the bank account number to withdraw money from your account.
- If you're contacted by a magazine telemarketer, listen carefully to the initial sales presentation. Don't be afraid to interrupt and ask questions. If you're not interested, say good-bye and hang up.
- If it sounds like a good deal and you're interested in buying, ask the caller for his name, and the name, address and phone number of the company. Do not give out your credit card number before verifying who it is you are talking to and checking out the company.
- Ask for the total yearly cost of each magazine and for the whole package. Before you agree to buy anything, ask to receive a written copy of the sales terms offered over the telephone.
- If you receive an offer in the mail or as part of a sweepstakes promotion to review a "free" issue of a magazine -- be careful. Supposedly when the free issue comes, you can review it to see if you like it. Then when the invoice comes, you can simply write "cancel" on it and return it to the company with no further obligation, or you can pay the invoice amount and continue to receive the magazine. However, according to some complaints the bill comes first. Consumers who haven't kept track may think they owe the money and pay it automatically. In other cases, the bill comes after several issues and consumers feel obligated to pay.
- If you agree to review a free issue, keep track of when you sent the offer and when the magazine and bill come. Return the bill to the company as soon as possible with your decision whether to continue or cancel the subscription.