Extra! Extra! Read all about this subscription deception

Many people have subscriptions to their beloved dailies or weeklies. But that notice in the mail saying your subscription is about to expire, or offering to get a subscription started, could be from a company that has no relationship with your newspaper or magazine. It may be from a scammer who wants to get into your wallet.

The FTC filed a complaint to stop Liberty Publishers Service, Inc., Associated Publishers Network, Inc., Express Publishers Service, Inc., and others from soliciting new subscriptions and renewals from people. The FTC says these companies sent out mailers that looked like real notices saying people’s subscriptions would automatically renew if they paid, and claiming to offer the lowest available rates.

Except those claims weren’t true. The rates were actually up to 40 percent higher than the publishers’ and some people never even got their papers. And when people tried to cancel their payments, the FTC says they either were unsuccessful or only got a partial refund.

How to avoid being misled by deceptive subscription offers?

  • Pay online at the newspaper’s or magazine’s website or contact the subscription department by phone. Use the number on your paper, online, or on a previous bill.
  • Consider auto-renewal and payment, so you don’t have to rely on renewal notices sent by postal mail. If possible, pay with a credit card. It offers fraud protections.
  • Be aware of changes to your bill. If the price or billing period changes, contact the publication using contact info you know is real. You can confirm rate offers with the subscriptions department.
  • Be on the lookout for suspicious invoices. If you have questions or suspect an invoice is fake, check with your publication’s subscription department.

And if a company misleads you with a subscription offer, report it to the FTC.