Better Business Bureau recommends consumers be very careful when signing up for magazine subscriptions.
At this time of year, students looking for work to help pay for their education are recruited and sent into communities to knock on doors to sell magazine subscriptions, often without appropriate licensing. However, they may be unwitting pawns of scammers who are collecting credit card numbers to commit fraud.
According to the Better Business Bureau "Students may not be aware that they are working for criminals, however, other door-to-door peddlers may pose as students in order to commit fraud."
Telemarketers use slick, high-pressure tactics to get consumers to buy multi-year subscriptions for magazines they don't want or may not be able to afford.
Last year, BBBs across the country received more than 32 hundred complaints from consumers who did not receive any magazines, were sent magazines they never ordered, discovered unauthorized charges on their credit cards and found it difficult if not impossible to cancel their subscription. Others claimed they were repeatedly pestered by aggressive telemarketers.
BBB recommends the following tips on handling magazine subscription sellers:
Take your time - Red flags include offers of a "one-time-only" discount, or pressure to sign up right away for an exclusive offer. Ask for sales documents, a business card and any other printed information that can help you verify the legitimacy of the seller. Avoid making on-the-spot decisions to sign any documents or pay in advance for goods or services.
Verify credentials - If you are interested in signing up for a magazine subscription, contact the company to make sure the seller is a legitimate employee, and research the company's BBB Business Review at www.bbb.org. Make sure the contact information on the business card matches the company's.
Get cancellation paperwork - Along with a receipt, salespeople should also provide a completed cancellation form that you can send to get out of the contract. By law, a company must cancel a contract within ten days of receiving a cancellation notice. Obtain proof of delivery from the post office, and if the company ignores your request, contact your credit card issuer.
Remember your legal rights - The Federal Trade Commission's 'Cooling-Off Rule' gives you three days to cancel any purchases over $25 that are made at your home or any location that is not the seller's permanent place of business.