Why would scammers "bait" us?? ... (just click and watch)

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Welcome...

Don't miss the links in the text and in the handy sidebar.

theNRSscam blog was created to provide general magazine subscription scam information, consumer protection resources, specific information about National Readers Service, and suggestions for dealing with magazine subscription scams.

If you have found any company's business practices to be deceptive or fraudulent, I strongly encourage you to contact your local consumer protection office and file complaints with the Federal Trade Commission and Attorneys General. Feel free to link this site to any relevant discussion you encounter, help me keep my promise, and make the ability to keep doing this type of business more difficult!!

Your questions, comments, and personal NRS updates are encouraged here.

Thanks for visiting, D/

Check out who else is checking out National Readers Service:

> December 24, 2009: Pennsylvania Attorney General opens file on National Readers Service, Pittsburgh, PA
>NRS, Pittsburgh responds to the Attorney General
> December 30, 2009: Kansas Attorney General demands trial by jury against Publisher’s Renewal Service d/b/a National Readers Service, and Treasure Coast Renewals, et al. Check out the court documents at courthousenews.com

Check out something interesting:

> Rip Off Report complaint about International Marketing Association (a.k.a., National Readers Service, et al) .

Thursday

Suggestions for Dealing with Magazine Subscription Scams

Discussion topics::
  • SPOTTING AND AVOIDING A TELEMARKETING MAGAZINE SCAM
  • DEALING WITH A MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION SCAM 
    1. Handling annoying telemarketing calls
    2. Additional third party preview offers
    3. Addressing fraudulent debits/ charges IF YOU HAVE NOT made any agreement (verbal or written)
    4. Addressing unacceptable business practices if you have agreed to an account but have no contact information
    5. Addressing unacceptable business practices after agreeing to an account
    6. Addressing inappropriate debt collection practices
  • MONITORING YOUR CREDIT REPORT
  • REDUCING FUTURE UNSOLICITED MARKETING CONTACTS

SPOTTING AND AVOIDING A TELEMARKETING MAGAZINE SCAM:
  • If the "offer" is too good to be true...
  • Be wary of unsolicited sources, “free prizes”, and high-pressure “limited time” offers.
Never buy a magazine subscription without knowing the answers to at least these questions. Ask for, carefully review, and research written information BEFORE you decide to buy.
  1. Who are you buying from? (BBB search/ Google)
  2. Exactly what magazine titles they are selling?
  3. How long is the subscription and are renewals automatic?
  4. What are these magazines worth and how much are you paying for them? Do the math!!(This is not an endorsement for www.magazines.com, just an example of a cover/ subscription price comparison option.)
  5. What is the cancellation policy?
  • Remember the right to cancel and the legality of telephone recorded contracts may vary by state. NEVER assume that you can cancel later or get out of a "legally binding contract" once made as that may not be the case. Be aware there are many conscientious magazine subscription agents who do allow cancellations (and even offer full refunds) for undelivered issues at any time. Just know who you are dealing with before you subscribe!!
  • NEVER give (or "verify") your personal account information unless you intend to buy. There is no other reason to obtain account numbers than to withdraw funds.
  • If you have been scammed once you are a prospect for future scams. Attempts may be made to create duplicate accounts, complete fraudulent renewals, or catch you in unrelated scams from other companies. BE PREPARED!!
DEALING WITH A MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION SCAM:

Handling annoying telemarketing calls:
  • If already on the National Do Not Call Registry, file a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission or Federal Trade Commission. You may also consider contacting your Attorney General.
  • If not on the registry, place all landlines and cell phones on the National Do Not Call list. Complaints may be filed, with certain restrictions, after being on the registry for 31 days. Registration on the National Do Not Call list does not require renewal and never expires. (This change became law in February 2008.)
  • Some states also have Do Not Call lists. Contact your Attorney General's office for more information.
  • Request to be put on the telemaketing company's own "Do not call list" at the time of unwanted telephone contact. Specific consumer requests must be honored for five years regardless of whether you are on the DNC list or not or if a previous "business relationship" exists. Violations may be reported to the FCC.
  • Handling debt collector calls is addressed below.
Special note regarding additional third party preview offers: Details of the additional preview offers with my daughter's solicitation are here.
  • If you are charged by a magazine subscription scam company, it is not unusual for you to have "agreed" to other third party preview offers during the initial solicitation without realizing it (these may have non-refundable activation fees as well as monthly charges!!).
  • Closely monitor your account(s) for any other unauthorized debit activity.
  • Disputed charges can be handled as outlined below.
  • Request WRITTEN cancellation agreements from these "companies" as well.
To address fraudulent debits/ charges to your bank or credit card account IF YOU HAVE NOT made any agreement (verbal or written):
  • File a report with your local law enforcement for fraudulent debit activity.
  • Contact bank or credit card company about reversing charge(s).
  • Either place a suspicious debit alert or stop payment for the specific company and monitor your account for unauthorized activity at least weekly or close the account and transfer all legitimate pre-authorized debits to another account.
  • File complaints with the Federal Trade Commission and Attorney General.
  • Contact your local consumer protection agency or consumer law attorney for guidance if needed.
  • Check bank or credit card statements for phone contact number. It may be listed along with the state of origin for the debit/ charge. This number may be for the actual company or for its debit processor.
  • Keep records of all contact with this company.
  • If contact information is available, you may notify them (by phone and/ or send written notification) of actions taken, your expectation of refund (if unable to reverse charge through bank/ credit card company), and expected receipt within 10 business days of written verification of account closure without any balance, no future billing, and placement on the company's do not call list. See examples of cancellation notices here.
  • Keep a copy of all written notifications for your records and send by certified mail with return receipt request.
  • Seek legal counsel if needed.
To address unacceptable business practices if you have agreed to an account but have no contact information:
  • Check bank or credit card statements for phone contact number. It may listed be along with the state of origin for the debit/ charge.This number may be for the actual company or for its debit processor.
  • Contact information for various National Readers Service companies can be found here (from BBB listings and my daughter's information).
  • File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission , your state's Attorney General, and your local consumer protection office.
  • Simply closing the account if you have made a verbal agreement should be approached cautiously. In some states cancellation rights are not guaranteed, and telephone contracts are considered legally binding. Seek guidance from your bank or credit card company, local consumer protection agency, or consumer law attorney as needed.
To address unacceptable business practices after agreeing to an account:
Wondering what to expect?? Specific details of the magazine subscription cancellation process and "insider" scripts can be found here. Details of my preparation and conversation with NRS here!
  • Gather your documents: contracts, price comparisons of your deal with both cover prices and subscription prices for the magazines you have chosen, etc. (This is not an endorsement for www.magazines.com, just an example of a cover/ subscription price comparison option.) Knowing what you have bought will motivate you to deal with them!!
  • Decide what resolution is acceptable to you (closing the account, refunding your money, etc). Remember the earlier in your “contract” you are dealing with this scam; the more likely it will be resolved to your satisfaction.
  • Refund requests should bear in mind the more magazines received... the more unreasonable expecting any refund becomes. If cancelling a pre-paid five year subscription within the first several months, for example, one year of magazines with a refund of payments over 20-25% of the subscription's total price should be a more than reasonable suggestion (should be... but don't expect to reach any such agreement easily. In fact, actually getting ANY refund from a scam company may be impossible).
  • Contact the company (by phone and/ or send written notification) and attempt to resolve issues to your satisfaction.See examples of written cancellation notices here.
  • Keep a copy of your own written notifications for your records and send by certified mail with return receipt request.
  • If you choose to contact them by phone, preparing a written script can be helpful.
  • If you have found a company's business practices to be deceptive or fraudulent and have already unsuccessfully attempted to resolve your dispute, file a complaint from this Federal Trade Commission link or VERY easily by telephone at 1-877-FTC-HELP.
  • If they have been unreceptive in previous contacts, another conversation similar to what follows may increase your likelihood of success. There are certainly more possiblities to include, but here's a list (with links) to start with. Be determined, but do not be distracted by losing your temper. Say what you mean, mean what you say, and then do what you said!!
  • Do not tell them you will follow this course of action unless they comply with your wishes (that's blackmail).This is your plan regardless, and you are simply notifying them of that fact.  
"I am informing you of my intentions to:
  1. File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (Or inform them that complaint has already been filed). Note: Complaints may also be filed VERY easily by telephone at 1-877 FTC-HELP. 
  2. File a complaint with the National Consumers League.
  3. File a complaint with the  Better Business Bureau
  4. Contact my Bank or Credit Card Company regarding reversing charges.
  5. Contact my local consumer protection agency and file an official complaint, as well as, send letters detailing my entire experiences with your company to the Attorneys General in both your state of operations and my state of residence.
  6. E-mail a consumer complaint to the Magazine Publishers of America.
  7. Contact an Attorney specializing in consumer law.” 
  • Inform them that you expect to receive WRITTEN confirmation of cancellation or any other agreements within 10 business days (magazine subscription companies seldom honor verbal cancellation agreements) and consider sending your own written notification to them as well (keep a copy and send certified mail with return receipt).
  • In the case of cancellations, specifically address the account being closed and paid in full with no other accounts that you are unaware of, nor any future billing, any additional magazines received are your gift without charge, and details of expected refund (if any). You may also specifically request no telephone contact from the company in the future.
  • If the account is not closed, specifically address the complete terms of the agreement- magazine subscriptions to be received (specific titles and number of months), the amount, number, and method of payments (consider alternatives such as money order through the mail), total remaining balance to be paid, and specific request of no automatic renewal.
  • If considering a revised payment plan, request written details to throughly review prior to making any new agreement. Do not give any additional account information, credit card numbers, etc. over the phone.
  • If your dispute is in arbitration and you plan to continue payments, money orders through the mail are option rather than automatic withdrawals from your account. You may request a mailing address for payments if you close the account they have access to.
  • Keep records of all contact with this company.
  • If needed, your local consumer protection agency or the Better Business Bureau may be willing to provide arbitration assistance in working with this company. You can also contact an attorney or consumer law advocate.
  • If you believe a company's business practices are deceptive or fraudulent, file complaints with the Federal Trade Commission and the Attorneys General regardless of whether your dispute is "satisfactorily resolved" or not. While the FTC and AGs do not provide legal advice or intervene on the behalf of individuals, official investigations can make the ability to continue these types of business practices more difficult and may protect the next unwary victim! 
To address inappropriate debt collection practices: 
  • If you are contacted by a debt collector, you may attempt to resolve the matter with them even if you think it is a mistake or you cannot immediately repay a legitimate debt.
  • Remember a "collection agency" contacting you for an outstanding magazine account balance could, in fact, be the same telemarketing employees simply functioning in a collections capacity, a lawyer working for the company, or an actual third party that has purchased the debt (who could be completely aware of its questionable nature in some cases).
  • Request any agreement that a debt is invalid IN WRITING.
  • Within five days of contacting you, the debt collector must provide a written “validation notice” detailing how much you owe, the company to whom it is owed, and how to proceed if you don’t think you owe the debt. Specifically request this written validation notice from them.
  • Send a letter to the debt collector (certified mail with return receipt) within 30 days requesting “written verification” of the debt. They must stop contacting you until written verification (such as a copy of the bill/ contract, etc.) has been sent.
  • You may also specifically request in writing that the collector not contact you again or direct all contact through your attorney if you have one. They may only contact you after such notification to inform you that no action will be taken or that they intend to take a specific action, such filing a lawsuit.
  • Third party debt collectors’ conduct is restricted by the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA ) in order to prevent abusive, unfair or deceptive practices. The FDCPA may apply to in-house collections that misrepresent themselves as well. Some specifically prohibited practices are listed here.
Debt collectors may NOT: 
  • contact you before 8am or after 9 pm or at your work if you have told them that you are not allowed to get calls there.
  • contact third parties other than to find out your address, home phone number and where you work (and generally only one contact is permitted for each party).
  • discuss any details of your debt with anyone other than you, your spouse or your attorney.
  • contact you by postcard.
  • harass you, make false claims, or misrepresent who they actually are in an attempt to collect a debt.
  • falsely claim that documents are legal forms or official government documents if they are not.
  • threaten to have you arrested, to garnish your wages, or seize property unless it is legal for them to take such actions.
  • threaten to take legal action unless they actually intend to do so.
  • attempt to collect interest or other fees unless the original contract (or your state laws) allow the charge.
  • deposit a post-dated check early. 
MONITORING YOUR CREDIT REPORT:
  •  The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) requires each of the nationwide consumer reporting companies — Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion — to provide you with a free copy of your credit report, at your request, once every 12 months.
  • There is only one place to obtain a truly free credit report -www.annualcreditreport.com (Do not be fooled by any of the companies offering one free report followed with charges for intermittent monitoring services.)
  • Staggering your requests from each of the three of the nationwide consumer reporting companies during a 12-month period may be a good way to keep an eye on the accuracy and completeness of the information in your reports.
  • The Federal Trade Commission has additional information about your free credit report here.
REDUCING FUTURE UNSOLICITED MARKETING CONTACTS:  

24 comments:

  1. My husband fell for this scam several years ago (prior to us even meeting), and is currently being charged $39.90 a month from his debit card. He has called the company (which is billing under the name Treasure Coast) multiple times to attempt to lower the amount that is owed or at the very least start receiving magazines we might possibly read (they are sending him Working Mother monthly and he's male and we do not have children...). None of the calls have ever ended well and I believe he actually manages to get talked into a longer subscription period.
    He recently closed the account that the subscription was coming out of due to other fraudulent activity so we received the letter today that the credit card was declined and in order to keep the account current we need to provide them with a new one. Our other option is to pay the balance of $558.60 in full (I did the math, there is no discount in doing that, that is the equivalent of 14 more payments). I have no intention of giving the company a new account number because this "service" is actually a ridiculous scam. I am only concerned that if we don't pay and they send the account to collections it will negatively affect my husband's credit, is there any way to avoid this?

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks for your post, Christina.

    Sorry to hear about your situation, but everything you're describing is typical for any magazine scam company’s operations (refusal to cancel, "reduced" payment plans that can oftentimes be worse than the original "deal", intentional deception to create longer subscriptions or even duplicate accounts, and persistent collection efforts if you cut them off, etc).

    As to your question, you can be virtually assured the account will be “turned over to collections” if you have simply cut them off. Collection agencies for these types of companies may be the same employees that scammed customers in the first place now functioning in a “collections” capacity, an attorney working for the company, or a third company that has bought the debt from the original scammers and is attempting to collect (and in many cases are certainly aware of the debt’s questionable nature). From what I’ve been able to learn they do not seem to actually follow through with reporting defaults to the credit bureaus as a legitimate business would, but all of the collection efforts described above may continue to a relentless degree for years and years. Also don’t be surprised if your husband information is shared as a potential prospect to other scammers.

    In your situation, I would contact them one last time to inform them of my cancellation notice and request WRITTEN cancellation confirmation from them within 10 business days. If you decide to call, I encourage you to prepare a script and stick to it. Otherwise simply send a written cancellation notice by certified mail and keep a copy for your records. Be sure to inform them of the fact that the Attorneys General have been notified of your cancellation request (you can simply Cc the AGs if sending written notification). While it will never result in any punitive action against a company, contacting the BBB is another option for third party arbitration in reaching a cancellation agreement with them.

    I’m not sure if you are dealing with the Kansas NRS bunch, but I want to mention that the timing may be perfect for you to actually reach a cancellation agreement if you are and avoid any future aggravation. The Kansas Attorney General has filed a petition against National Readers Service, Kansas (d/b/a Treasure Coast which is evidently a foreign corporation operating under Florida law) requesting a trial by jury and I am certain they do not wish to intensify this scrutiny. There is a link to that court document above.

    I am convinced that however remote the possibility of influencing any company with deceptive and fraudulent business tactics is, it will only happen if the enforcers (the FTC and AGs) are aware of such practices… and that only happens if we report it. Convenient submission links are in the sidebar.

    Good luck, D/

    ReplyDelete
  3. Danielle29.7.10

    I came across your complaint board about the National Readers Service and read about how your daughter was scammed by them. I am 18 years old, and I believe I may also have been scammed by the same company. Although I believe in my case they are know as "Virginia Renewal Service". I first received a phone call from them in February of this year, and due to my carelessness I went along with their conversation. Without realizing it, I subscribed myself to their magazine scam. When I first noticed the payment withdrawal they made from my credit card, my account had been overdrawn by about $200 (about $150 being from overdraft fees). I called up the company and they returned the initial $68, but I still had to pay for the overdraft fees with my own money. A few weeks later they called back and I kept trying to cancel my subscription, but they wouldn't let me. So I agreed to go with the reduced payment plan of $39.95 a month, which they have charged me three times so far. I'd really like to call them and try to cancel my subscription like you were able to, but I'm not very good at handling these types of situations, and my father isn't very fluent in English so he wouldn't be able to help me in handling it either. I'd really appreciate it if you could help me figure out how to cancel my subscription and possibly get my money back. If I am not able to do so, I think my only option would be to cancel my credit card so they are not able to charge me anymore.
    It's really messed up how they have the authorization to charge us every month. I have gotten over 20 magazines from them so far, and they are just sitting in my closet taking up space because I don't find them very interesting to read. I really just want them to stop sending me these things and stop charging me and give me my money back because I don't make enough money to be wasting it on this uselessness. I'd really appreciate it if you would message me back with possible options of how I could get them to cancel my subscription. Thank you so much.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Danielle,

    Thanks for commenting, and I apologize for not being able to respond immediately to your post.

    I’m so sorry you’re dealing with this alone, but don’t be discouraged. Cancelling your CC will certainly eliminate their ability to remove funds, but doesn’t really address “account cancellation”. Truthfully though, cancelling that CC account is probably a good idea even if they agree to cancel the subscription.

    Here’s a potential course of action:

    1. Gather all of your documents- contracts, price comparisons of the NRS deal, cover prices and subscription prices, etc. Believe me; knowing what you’ve bought will motivate you in handling them!!

    2. Create a timeline of all interactions with this company if you have not already.

    3. List all of the following:
    a. Any specific fraudulent business practices [deceptive solicitation practices and price descriptions, refusal to honor implied cancellation periods, etc.]
    b. Your desired resolution [account cancellation, refund, etc.]
    c. Your intended actions [suggestions are described above.]

    4. Prepare a script of what you intend to say.

    5. Call NRS [You could send written notification including all of this same information as an alternative.]
    a. Ask for a customer service manager.
    b. Follow the script you have prepared. Do not be distracted and BE DETERMINED. Just stick to your script. You can be sure they are sticking to theirs. [My experience was almost identical to the insider scripts I have posted here: http://thenrsscam.blogspot.com/2010/05/virginia-beach-va-revealer-blog-posts.html . It may be helpful for you to look over this information.]

    6. Be certain to get cancellation confirmation in WRITING if they agree. Otherwise send your own detailed notice of cancellation by certified mail with return receipt.

    7. Keep all records of contact with this company FOREVER and do not be caught unaware of the potential for other future scam attempts… You are on the “once a victim, always a prospect” list now, and your contact information is very likely to be shared with other companies.

    8. If you need third party assistance dealing with this scam, consider contacting your state’s local consumer protection agency (or the CPA in their state of operations) or the Better Business Bureau.

    9. If you have found this company’s business practices to be fraudulent, I encourage you to report them to the Attorneys General and the Federal Trade Commission regardless of the outcome of your dispute.

    Best of luck to you, D/

    ReplyDelete
  5. Sheree7.10.10

    PLEASE HELP!!!

    I am currently tangled up with FOUR of these scam companies: Readers Service Ohio, Spacecoast Publications (FL), Central Renewal Service (KS), and Readers Club Home Office (MN). I initially signed up with CRS, and when the others called, I thought they were CRS when they told me they were my magazine service. They get me to go through the fast-paced recording where I stupidly repeat my credit card information and here I am now. With their 7 day cancellation periods, I lose the opportunity to cancel before I even see the charge on my credit card. I have tried to cancel by phone, but they say I agreed, so I'm afraid I have no recourse. Is there anything I can do?

    ReplyDelete
  6. Sheree,

    Thanks for commenting. Sorry to hear about your situation.

    Repeated new solicitations from multiple “companies” vaguely identified as “your magazine service” are a common magazine scam tactic. Undoubtedly you are on a telemarketing sucker list, and with four separate magazine accounts ANY scammer will pay top dollar for your information.

    Unfortunately this “reloading” will never stop until you VERY effectively deal with the situation or until you completely run out of funds (even that will be unlikely to stop the attempts!). Remember you are dealing with scammers here. Their ONLY job is to keep your account(s) open (or better yet catch you off guard again and open yet another one!)

    In your situation, I would immediately close that CC account for fraudulent access, and each company with fraudulent business practices would be reported to the both the FTC and Attorneys General (my state and theirs). EACH of the “companies” that fraudulently solicited the additional accounts would be contacted with notification of reports to both the FTC and AGs, expectation of immediate cancellation, and requests of WRITTEN cancellation confirmation within 10 business days. Complaint submission links are in the sidebar.

    Deal with them like you mean business ...Just say what you mean, mean what you say, and then do what you said!! If you decide to call, I encourage you to prepare a script and stick to it (you better believe they have one). Another option is to simply send a written cancellation notice by certified mail and keep copies of everything for your records.

    You’ll have to decide how to handle the original company that you signed up with, but personally I would not tolerate any more access to credit cards, debit cards, or bank accounts from ANY of these companies (you can bet this all developed from shared contact information after the original solicitation!!) In my daughter’s situation, if cancellation had not been agreed upon, monthly money order payments would have been mailed to the address of their choice while the dispute was in arbitration.

    If you are unable to reach any acceptable agreement, local consumer protection agencies (yours or theirs) are typically willing to assist in situations like this. Also while it will never result in any punitive action against a company, contacting the BBB is another option for third party arbitrations. With the degree of involvement you’re talking about here, contacting a consumer law advocate would certainly be worthwhile if these other options are unsuccessful.

    Unfortunately you will always be a prospect for future (potentially unrelated) scams because of this. It will be necessary for you to be exceptionally wary of ALL unsolicited sources of ANYTHING … FOREVER. Don't just learn this lesson the hard way for yourself ... share what you've learned with those you love. You'll be surprised how many are just as unsuspecting as you were.

    Good luck to you, D/

    ReplyDelete
  7. Hi D,

    Stupidly, I was gotten to this mess by a company named Virginia Renewal Service. I'm neither good at English nor able to deal with them myself.

    Can you tell me how can I get out of this? They've already charged me 2 months. Can I call my banker to tell her about this?

    ReplyDelete
  8. 7irus,

    Thanks for commenting.

    Your bank may very well have resources to assist you, and I found my daughter’s to be quite helpful. For other options of third-party assistance consider contacting local consumer protection agencies (yours and theirs) or the Better Business Bureau.

    If their business practices are in any way fraudulent, report them to the FTC and Attorneys General (your state and theirs) and tell them so. You can call or simply send notification by mail. Your English seems quite good to me actually, and you may be totally surprised how well they understand THAT conversation in particular- lol.

    Links are in the sidebar.

    Good luck to you, D/

    ReplyDelete
  9. Anonymous26.3.11

    HI!

    I recently got a similar phone call just yesterday. They told me the magazines were free and that they just needed more readers so they could charge the advertisers more. Then at the end of the call was the catch. She said that there was a $3 a week processing fee. I stupidly said yes when she asked if I understood that. I had already given her my name, address, and phone number when I really thought the magazines were free. Then her supervisor got on the phone and asked if she was polite and courteous because she was still in trainging. I said yes and she asked me if I understood that there was a $3 a week processing fee and I said yes I understood. She then said thank you and hung up. I didn't have the opportunity to get any of their info, ask how many weeks this was for, or anything about it. I planned on finding a polite way to say thanks, but no thanks but she hung up so quickly. I didn't give any bank account information at all. In my state, WI, there is a three day cancellation period, but I have no way to conact them to cancel. I'm not even sure what the name of the company was. I want to take care of this right away so I don't end up paying for this or ruining my credit. I already described the situation to my state consumer protection department and filed an online complaint. What is my next step??

    Thanks!!

    ReplyDelete
  10. Thanks for commenting, and you are most welcome.

    In Wisconsin your three day right to cancel does not start until you actually receive the subscription agreement explaining your right to cancel. (Watch your mail closely- it is not unusual for this information to look like junk mail.) Your cancellation notice must be in writing and keep a copy for your records.

    Meanwhile …

    • Prepare a time line for your records to document all interactions with the company including contacting your state CPA and filing a complaint.

    • Since reports of unscrupulous telemarketers having access to account numbers prior to “customer” contact are not that unusual, monitor all CC and bank accounts closely (or be proactive and notify them of the situation).

    • It may be beneficial to monitor your credit report - https://www.annualcreditreport.com- as a result of this. (Do not be fooled by any of the companies offering one free report followed with charges for intermittent monitoring services.)

    • If you are contacted at some later date with nonsense about the three day cancellation period not being met, send them a detailed notice of cancellation (certified mail with return receipt). Include all relevant details from your timeline documentation with specific mention of your notification of intention to cancel to your state CPA. For good measure, Cc that letter to your CPA and the Attorneys General in both your state and theirs.

    Hopefully you won’t get any hassle from them … if so, just deal with it like you mean business.

    Good luck, D/

    ReplyDelete
  11. Got caught unawares this past Friday and signed up for the magazine subscription. Called Customer Service this morning with your cancellation suggestions in hand (having practiced my "speech" all weekend) and just firmly and politely kept reiterating NO magazines, CANCEL Account, REFUND $68.28.

    I asked to speak to a supervisor but was told the young lady I was speaking to was a supervisor (imagine that, lol). I finally pulled out the big guns and mentioned the BBB and filing lawsuits. Given to another girl immediately at that point and she canceled the account and informed me that the $68.28 would be back in my bank account in 7-10 business days (we shall see).

    I was given a cancellation number, but when I asked for something in writing confirming the cancellation, I was told that Temporary accounts do not get cancellation letters, they get "numbers" and I could call them back at anytime if there was a problem.

    Overall, the call lasted only 5 minutes (I was expecting longer) and went exactly like you said it would except for the last part about a cancellation number instead of a letter. Does this sound right to you and should I be concerned that they may try to pull something?

    Thanks for the awesome help!

    ReplyDelete
  12. saecollies2,

    Thanks for commenting, and you are most welcome :)

    Magazine telemarketers are notorious for not honoring verbal cancellation agreements. If I had a nickel for every consumer complaint I’ve read describing contact from magazine telemarketers (after verbal agreements) for cancellations that “didn’t go through after all”, claims that the arrangement was actually a grace period which is now lapsed, or some other scamming nonsense, I could give you another $68.28 from it!!-lol

    Your “temporary” account has put your contact (and worse yet, bank account) information in their database. My advice … HAVE THE CANCELLATION IN WRITING!! If they are unwilling to send you a written cancellation agreement, just send them your own detailed cancellation notice (certified mail with return receipt). You can also specifically request to be placed on their “Do not call list”.

    If they cannot provide a physical address with someone to sign the receipt, just forward a copy of your letter to your local consumer protection agency or Attorney General’s office for their reference (and notify their Customer Service of that fact). Hopefully, CPA or AG involvement will reduce the likelihood of some future “misunderstanding”.

    BTW, watch for any third-party debits from your bank account that you may have inadvertently agreed to during the solicitation. It would be a good idea to be proactive and notify your bank of the situation. They may be able to place an alert on the account for any suspicious debit activity, or simply close the account and open a new one.

    As for your contact information, expect it to be shared. Be suspicious of ANY unsolicited marketing attempts for ANYTHING … FOREVER. A year and a half later my daughter has mysteriously been given two “complimentary” subscriptions from a different magazine “company” that she can renew upon expiration (if she wants to keep them). What luck, yet another “fabulous offer” (or not??)- ;)

    http://thenrsscam.blogspot.com/2011/04/guess-there-isnt-dont-bother-to-keep.html

    Good luck (to all of us), D/

    ReplyDelete
  13. Anonymous13.5.11

    D,

    I recieved a call on Monday from Universal Reading Services in Virginia. The man I was speaking with claimed to be a "manager". He said he was with Universal Reading Services and wanted to make sure I was getting my magazines. At first I didn't know what he was talking about. Then it hit me. I said, "Universal Reading Servies? Oh I've read all about you guys and believe me it wasn't anything good." (I was previously suckered into this scam last July and after fighting it and fighting it, thought it was finally over with.) Well I proceeded to tell this man I do not want any of your magazines I called and cancelled this a long time ago, no thank you. He just stated that he understands and has recieved many of the same complaints. He said he could see where I had cancelled, but my account was subject to automatic renewal (go figure.) I told him again NO thank you I do not want it. He said ok mam I just need to have a card number on file and make a recording of you saying you do not want this renewed so I can send it to the publishers. So stupidly I said ok and rattled of my card number after he had told me numerous times he would NOT charge anything to my card. And he recorded me saying NO to the service. At the end of the call I asked, "I will not be charged right?" He said, "That's right you will not be paying anything at all mam I'm just going to mark on your account that you're paid in full and you will NOT be charged." He then gave me a cancellation number, which I saved, thank God! He said I would be contacted in 60 days by someone and had to give them the cancellation number. Well today wouldn't you know it, I recieve a letter in the mail from "Virginia Renewal Service" stating that an authorized rep has placed my subscription order on 5/10/11. (Which I had repeatedly said NO numerous times!) It says I now have a new service started. Funny, because I NEVER agreed to it! It states, "You will pay $59.90 a month for the first 30 months and nothing for the remaining months of service. The total of your 30 payments is $1, 797.00." NO way in hell am I paying that when I never agreed in the first place! It also states, "FOR YOUR CONVENIENCE, YOUR FIRST PAYMENT WILL BE BILLED THROUGH YOUR CREDIT CARD #:........." It then lists my card number. I called my CC company, sure enough a charge for 59.90 was made today. So I disputed it and the woman taking care of my account also said she would block the company from trying to make anymore charges. She suggested I call the company as well. She gave me a number that showed up on my account which was completely different than the one listed on my letter I recieved today. I've called both, and they are both closed right now. So I'm going to try back Monday morning. Is there anything else I can do? I've disputed the charge and they blocked the company from trying to charge me. Will this be enough?

    Oh, I forgot to mention the man I spoke with said he would be sending a cancellation notice and I should recieve it within 2-3 days, yeah, never got it.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Thanks for commenting, but I am sorry to hear about your situation. Unfortunately nothing here I haven’t heard before … ENDLESS fraudulent solicitation efforts with “convenient “credit card billing.

    The number on your account statement is likely their debit processing “service”, and this company name and phone number “confusion” is certainly intentional. In your position, unless the CC provider is INDEFINITELY blocking ALL new preauthorized debit activity from the account, I would just close the account for fraudulent access and open another. BTW, don’t be surprised if you “agreed” to other third party preview offers (also with “convenient monthly CC billing”) by saying “No” to the original solicitation.

    • File a report with your local law enforcement for fraudulent access to your CC account.

    • Report them to the FTC, your Attorney General, and their Attorney General. Links are in the sidebar. (You could even report them to the USPS for mail fraud and the FBI to be really thorough if you’d like).

    https://postalinspectors.uspis.gov/forms/MailFraudComplaint.aspx

    https://tips.fbi.gov/

    • Notify them of your actions taken, expectation of WRITTEN cancellation confirmation from them within 10 business days, and specifically request to be placed on their “Do Not Call” list.

    • Verbal agreements (and cancellation numbers over the phone) from companies like this are meaningless … have it in writing. Make a detailed timeline of all interactions with this company to add to any other documentation. If you can’t get them to send written cancellation confirmation, just send your own notice to them certified mail with return receipt and keep a copy.

    Be wary of ALL unsolicited offers of ANYTHING … FOREVER. Do not doubt that these people share your contact information with other scammers. Return the favor and share what you’ve learned with others. It could save them the aggravation of learning your lesson the hard way too!!

    Good luck, D/

    ReplyDelete
  15. Anonymous23.5.11

    Hi D. I got scammed by nrs like a year ago. I wanted to cancel my subscriptions and they told me that they would help me to cancel if i pay 50 dollars. which i did through the visa gift card and gave me a closing confirmation number to cancel my membership. now they are still sending me magazine that i dont even look. What can i do so that they would stop sending me magazine? should i call them back? and ask for a written cancellation letter? I'm grateful for you helping out others from these scammers. thank you

    ReplyDelete
  16. Anonymous23.5.11

    Hello D,

    I have been dealing with this problem at well. They called me up on my cell phone and they made it sound like I would get 12 magazines for each month for one full year for only about 57 buck. So I agreed to it and they even let me pick out the magazines I would like to read. And I knew about the 7 day cancellation thing but buy the time they called me again was the next month and they said my card had been declined. The only reason my card had been declined is that I moved to a different city and had to switch banks and I didnt think I would get another call back from them for another payment since I already paid. So then I got a call back from them saying I need to pay my bill and I said I already did and that is when I found out you have to pay that every month. Then I said I wanted to cancel this subcription and they told me I have agree to this contract, and I said this contract was not what I agreed to. They kept trying to tell me I had to pay and I said no, I am going to call the company and cancel it and I asked for there name of the company and looked it up online and called them and a friend of my told me what to say, basicly threaten them to sue or say I am going to contact the attorney general. So I did that and they said they would cancel it. Then I asked if I was going to get my money refunded back because I would need a check made out to me because I didn't trust them with my account number, they said I would get equally what I paid for. I have recieved one two magazines and they are both about motherhood and parenting. I am 24 not in a relationship cause I work alot and have no children and I did not even want that magazine. So I dont think 2 magazines is equally what I payed for and not even what I asked for. So after all this, they decided to call me back and tell me two months later after I cancelled that I am behind two payments. I told them I called and cancelled this and they said that is hard to believe because I have a bill right here infront of me. Then I asked him for his name and he said his name was ryan and I ask for his last name and he said that is private information that he does not have to give that out, and I was like because you dont want to get into some trouble and he said no I dont have to give it out because there is a privacy act that allows me to do that. I said ok ryan if that is even your real name and he said it is and I am not only ryan that works here. And they always call me from a blocked number....why is that?

    I have read your step above. One of my friends just say ignore it if they cant get your money and I was like no I dont want it to screw with my credit if they try and report it to collections. And if I do ignore it and it keep building up they could possible try and sue me for that money I just want to get it cancelled for good this time. I am curious how long it could take to get this all processed to clear after I write to the A.G. They told me it would do me no good to writed to the A.G. because they got me on a recording saying that I accepted the service and I said the first person that sold it to munipulated his words to me and it was not fully understood that I would have to pay every month. So I am wondering if there are other people that are reading this that have gotten it all cleared up.

    Thank you for reading,
    sorry I am not good at writing :S hope you all understand it.

    S

    ReplyDelete
  17. To Anonymous @ 12:35AM,

    You’re most welcome, and thanks for commenting.

    If you paid a cancellation settlement or are a one-pay customer (one payment for some revised subscription continuation), I encourage you to have whatever agreement you made in WRITING. “Closing confirmation numbers” over the phone are meaningless. Either call them or send your own written notification to them. (Keep a copy and send certified mail with return receipt).

    Contact information (phone number or website) for any magazine can usually be found somewhere within the magazine itself. Contact them and request information on exactly who placed your subscription. (They can determine this from information on the mailing label.) It may be a straggling along continuation from the original solicitation a year ago, or an entirely new “complimentary” subscription some new “company” is offering you. Either way, contact whoever it is, tell them to stop sending the magazines, and to send WRITTEN confirmation that it is cancelled. Hopefully within a few issues they will stop.

    Good luck, D/

    ReplyDelete
  18. Hi S,

    Thanks for commenting (and btw no apology needed … Everything you’ve written is completely understandable).

    You have presented several different issues (and questions):

    1. Deceptive solicitation practices

    Federal (and often state) legislation specifically prohibit this, and violators may be reported to both the FTC and your local consumer protection agencies (or Attorney General).

    Specifically, the FTC's Telemarketing Sales Rule (TSR) requires CLEAR statement of the total costs and terms of the subscription (including the amount of each installment AND the total number of installment payments).

    2. Recorded authorization for payments or contract agreements

    The TSR requires that audiorecorded oral authorizations be made available to you upon request. It must clearly demonstrate that you understood and acknowledged EACH term of the transaction and authorized the transaction.

    Be aware that some states require cancellation upon customer request at any time without restriction or may require a written signature on a contract for it to be valid.

    3. Individual telemarketer identification requirements

    The FTC’s TSR requires prompt disclosure of the identity of the seller (the magazine subscription company, in this case), but not the individual telemarketer.

    Many states, however, do make this a specific requirement. Some states require disclosure of the telemarketers “identity “which could be a specifically- identifiable fictitious name for that individual telemarketer (for example, only one “Ryan” at the company). While others even require disclosure of the legal first and last name of the caller.

    It is a specific violation of the TSR to fail to transmit caller ID information. Why do they do this?… common deceptive business practice for those attempting to remain anonymous.

    4. The rest of this is my personal opinion, btw.

    There is no guarantee of a refund from a company like this. Their claims to “give equal service to what has been paid” don't ever stand up … not with their original offers and not with one-pay arrangements (in your case $57.00 for 2 magazines that you have no interest in). You will have to decide how far to pursue a refund or when to just accept it as an expensive (but hopefully well-learned) lesson.

    These companies are notorious for not honoring their verbal agreements. WRITTEN cancellation agreements will eliminate any possible “confusion”; however, it will not prevent future contact about late payments after cancellation, lapsed grace periods, and other nonsense. This is the norm … expect them to be persistent.

    It is certainly possible for any (member) business to report defaults to the credit bureaus or turn accounts over to a collection agency. It seems though that companies of this type are more likely to use these threats as never-ending harassment to try to make you pay. Regularly monitor your credit report as a result of this. Don’t be fooled by one of the companies offering a free report followed by monthly charges for “credit monitoring services”. Free credit reports are required by law:

    https://www.annualcreditreport.com/

    Don’t take a scammer’s word for anything (not your legal rights nor what the AGs might be interested to hear). Local consumer protection agencies (or AGs) can provide information on specific consumer protection legislation in your state or may be able to assist you in your situation. My state CPA returned my call almost immediately, and the Pennsylvania AG (the state “my” scammers were operating in) responded to me within 2-3 weeks. Many victims have been able to “clear up” their situations. Hopefully you will be able to address the situation to your satisfaction, as well. But don’t EVER let your guard down … you are a prime prospect for scammers now. They are persistent at best, relentless at worst.

    Links are in the sidebar.

    Best of luck to you, D/

    ReplyDelete
  19. B. M.5.4.12

    I just signed up to receive 5 free magazines from Your Magazine Source. Said I had won a $100 visa gift card and a 3 day, 2 night getaway for me and four others.
    I gave them my credit card # and expiration date (not the 3 digit code because they said they don't need it since they have an agreement or something with the credit card companies) and they said they were going to charge me $24.95 for the first month. Then they said I can cancel it within 30 days so that I don't get charged for the next month, and I can cancel it right when I get the materials in the mail- by calling 855-323-8752.
    That I don't have to have received the magazines within 30 days to cancel it. I really regret giving them my card information. I called back twice to check things like when can I cancel it, making sure I will not be charged for anything else, etc. I wish I could just cancel the first $24.95 charge right now. I feel really stupid. Is there anything I can do?
    And what do I do to ensure that I am not charged ANYTHING past the $24.95? I'm scared I'm going to get scammed like everyone else has.
    And will I actually get the $100 gift card and the free getaway or was that a lie?

    ReplyDelete
  20. B.M.

    Thanks for commenting. Unfortunately nothing about the details of on-line consumer complaints for “Your Magazine Source” makes me very optimistic … lots of typical scamming nonsense.

    If you want to completely cancel, then go that route. Truthfully though even without a refund, $24.95 is a fairly inexpensive lesson if they will actually leave you alone otherwise. There are detailed suggestions for possible steps to take in the post above. Just deal with them like you mean business, and hopefully you can be successful in resolving the situation.

    As for the gift cards, free getaways, or whatever, expect a catch … such as gift cards that must be redeemed through specific (overpriced) vendors or prizes with so many restrictions they can never actually be used. If it sounds too good to be true, then most likely it isn’t …

    Good luck to you, D/

    ReplyDelete
  21. Hi, I found your blog after receiving one of these suspicious calls.

    The lady on the phone acted like she was calling with a survey and then asked me if I had VISA, Discover, etc.
    After listening to her for a while and giving her my mailing address, I was told about their magazine offers and she initially mentioned they would be free but later mentioned they would only cost 4.99. After growing suspicious, I declined the magazine offer and she then hung up on me saying that she would connect me to their automated system to enter in a sweepstakes.

    Although I didn't give out any credit card info besides confirming that I had VISA and giving her my home address, I'm still paranoid and wondering whether they could bill me through mail though I made it clear I did not want magazines.

    I really hope I'm safe!

    ReplyDelete
  22. Hi,
    I just came across your blog today after receiving one of these mysterious calls. A lady called me and acted like I was completing a survey in order to enter a sweepstakes. After the survey she asked me if I had VISA and then proceeded to tell me that I was going to receive magazines for free and then she started mentioning that I would pay a low price of 4.99. After hearing this, I immediately told her that I just didn't want any magazines and made it clear that I did not want to buy into this offer. She then said she would connect me to their automated service and proceeded to hang up on me.

    After reading all of these posts I am really worried about getting billed even though I did not divulge any bank info. I hope that I am okay but I was wondering if you had any tips on what to do in case I do get mailed a bill or something of the sort and whether any of this could wreck my credit.

    -Dayana

    ReplyDelete
  23. Anonymous14.6.12

    Hey D,
    I just got a call from these people yesterday and they told that I had been entered in some contest to win some money. They then asked me survey questions like my marital status, when i graduated high school, my age group and which credit had the best service; visa, mastercard, american express or discover.. I went along with all of this because I do a lot of surveys that I know are legit. They also told me something about a diamond watch but I didn't really understand what they said about it. They then went on to tell me about the magazine deal and that I only had to pay a little bit each week for about 5 magazines. When they said that I said "No, i'm not interested in that." He then said something that I couldn't understand and the call was still connected but it was silent like I had been put on hold. I hung up then and didn't talk to anyone else. I thought that it was kind of sketchy so I googled NRS and this site came up. I have been watching my bank account like a hawk and haven't seen any charges that I haven't done myself so i was kind of relieved. Then today (they day after the magazine offer people called) i got another call from someone else saying that because I recently purchased something through one of their partners they got my information. I asked for specifics and they couldn't/didnt give me any. I then said that I hadn't made any purchases and they said ok and the call was ended. I never once gave them my Credit or Debit card information and haven't noticed any charges that I don't recognize in my account. I am still scared that I am going to be charged though. I tried calling the number back today but it was just a recording for more "offers" and it never connects me to an actual person. I don't know what number I should try calling these people at to make sure that they don't have any of my info., or if I should even contact them because then they might give out my number to even more people. Any advice is very much appreciated. Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
  24. My apologies to the visitors below whose comments were "lost" in the spam folder ... hopefully you found the answers to your questions here on theNRSscam blog despite a lack of timely responses on my part.

    Dayana Alvarez 11.6.12
    Anonymous 14.6.12

    You both declined the magazine "deals" you were offered and did not give out your account information so hopefully that was the end of it. If not, detailed suggestions for dealing with a magazine scam are in the post on this page (above comments).

    Good luck, D/

    ReplyDelete

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About me & theNRSscam blog

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I'm no one special, my kid is just one of "the scammed", and I'm keeping the promise I made to National Readers Service. By the way, while I can attest to the truth of my own personal experience with National Readers Service as presented here, I cannot make the same guarantee for the other complaints and comments posted here or linked on this site. Also the suggestions offered here worked for me, the opinions I post are my own, but neither constitute legal advice. You'd have to consult a lawyer for that, of course. I hope you find something helpful here if you need it.