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Is your subscription renewal notice real?

Better Business Bureau issues warning about widespread fake subscription renewal scam after the New York Times and Wall Street Journal complain.

By Mitch Lipka Aug 29, 2013 6:35PM

Image: Woman writing a check © Image Source, Getty ImagesIf you get a subscription renewal, make sure who you're really paying before you send the check out. After getting peppered with complaints from magazine subscribers, and learning of complaints lodged by the publishers of the New York Times and Wall Street Journal, the Better Business Bureau on Thursday issued a warning to consumers about phony subscription renewals.

The BBB is warning about a Nevada-based operation called Associated Publishers Network. The company has generated 112 complaints just in the past year, the BBB said. The complaints are coming from all around the country.

Consumers who have fallen for the renewal notices find out when their subscriptions run out even though they believed they had paid for them, the BBB said. After learning that the renewal didn't go through, consumers contact the publisher -- which says it isn't connected to Associated Publishers. And when consumers contact Associated Publishers they rarely get a hold of anyone. In the rare instances they do, the BBB said, nothing happens -- no renewal, no refund.


"The subscription renewal notices being sent to consumers throughout the U.S. are very realistic and few consumers can differentiate the fake from the real," said Paula Fleming, vice president of the BBB serving Eastern Massachusetts, Maine, Rhode Island and Vermont.


The New York Times and Wall Street Journal both have made it plain that they do not work with Associated Publishers and that the company is not allowed to solicit subscription renewals.


Dow Jones & Company, the publisher of The Wall Street Journal, put out its own warning, the BBB said, listing a variety of names all out of the same address as Associated Publishers. The names of those businesses are: United Publisher's Clearing House, National Magazine Services, Orbital Publishing, and Publisher's Billing Exchange.


If you get a renewal notice, check when your subscription really expires by looking at the actual subscription label or contacting the publisher directly. If it is time to renew, do it directly through the publisher or by using a notice directly attached to your magazine. If you get a fake one, notify the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the Federal Trade Commission.

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Sep 1, 2013 12:18AM
Can anyone tell us if it is illegal to deliberately send a bad check to these subscription scammers?  I would think that if you really do not owe them any money because they are not authorized to collect for the subscriptions, then they have no right to any of your money.  So, in this case, it is not an act of deliberate fraud on our part to send them a bad check.   If enough of these things happen, then they would go out of business.
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