Magazine Sellers Use Fraudulent Practices

March 19, 2013

DENVER – Unethical magazine companies that use fraudulent practices to gain business are a problem in the Colorado marketplace, according to the Better Business Bureau of Denver/Boulder. These businesses lure in customers under false pretenses either on the phone or in person. The largest subjects of BBB complaints in recent years are companies that use telemarketing.

In the last three years, the BBB of Denver/Boulder has received nearly 1,800 complaints against the magazine industry. Almost all magazine companies that sell by telephone have F ratings with the BBB, the lowest possible rating given.

The subject of a local magazine scam, World Wide Readers Service, was recently ordered to pay more than $6 million in civil penalties and consumer restitution as a result of a lawsuit brought by Colorado Attorney General John Suthers. The company tricked consumers into paying up to $1,200 for magazines by pretending to be affiliated with magazine publishers with which consumers had an existing business relationship.

“The company may no longer engage in magazine telemarketing or purchase magazine ‘contracts’ without first providing copies of their telemarketing scripts, which must comply with the law, to our office,” Suthers said.

To avoid magazine scams, the BBB offers the following advice:

· Always check out magazine sellers with the BBB ( before agreeing to any purchase. If the seller claims to be affiliated with a company you’re already doing business with, get detailed information from them and verify with your current company first.

· Young people may approach you at your doorstep or in public places and say they are trying to raise money for a trip or a certain cause. They are usually not actual fundraisers and BBB complaints reflect delivery problems with magazines ordered. Consumers often do not get the magazines for an unreasonable amount of time or never receive them at all.

· Don't give your credit card number or bank account number unless you're certain you want to buy and you know the company is reliable. Otherwise, your account numbers could be used to make unauthorized purchases.

· When and if you agree to buy, some sellers may want to tape your telephone conversation to prove you understand all the terms of the agreement. In some states, your verbal agreement to buy may become an immediate legal contract. If you wish to cancel your subscriptions, you must do so in writing. Under the Federal Trade Commission's Mail Order Rule, you may cancel your order within three days of the receipt of the agreement.

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