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Avoid Magazine Subscription Scams

If a promise sounds too good to be true, it almost certainly is. And that’s the case with many offers for magazine subscriptions that you may receive over the phone or from someone selling door to door. The Michigan Association of CPAs offers this advice on how to be sure you’re getting the most sensible deal for you dollar.

Is It Really Free?

Some scam artists will try to get you to accept a “free” subscription offer or one that has been “prepaid.” Unfortunately, they will typically also ask you to pay a hefty processing fee that may add up to more than the newsstand price of the publication. In the end, the deal is no bargain.

What Will It Cost Me?

Of course, many magazine subscription offers from telemarketers and others are completely legitimate. But even though some of the offers you receive are legal, they may not necessarily be the best deal for you financially. According to the Federal Trade Commission, there are a few ways to make sure that you are spending your money wisely when it comes to subscriptions. First, ask what your total cost will be. If the salesperson doesn’t answer or changes the subject, that’s a sign that the deal may be a scam. If salesperson tells you that the subscription only costs “pennies a day,” for example, be sure to get an answer on the full price you will pay. You may find that those pennies add up to far more than you imagined.

What’s the Length of the Subscription?

Some salespeople may not tell you that you are actually signing up for a subscription that lasts several years. Once you verify the total cost and how long the subscription lasts, you may realize that you are paying significantly more per issue than you would if you bought the magazine on the newsstand or through the publisher. You won’t find this out, though, until you get all the details. You’ll also want to know how often the publication will come, how you will be billed and what your cancellation rights are. Ask for a written copy of the contract before you agree to subscribe, to ensure you have all the necessary information in writing.

What Company Are You With?

If you have suspicions about any salespeople, get more information about them before agreeing to a deal. For example, salespeople who are not affiliated with the publisher of the magazine or newspaper may charge you more than the publisher would, so be sure you know exactly who you’re dealing with. In addition, unscrupulous sellers may claim to be raising money for a charity. Ask them for identification and for evidence that they are truly connected to the group they claim to represent. If you think they may not be legitimate, you can report them to your local Better Business Bureau or to the state attorney general’s office.

Why Should I Renew Now?

Telemarketers often call to urge you to renew a subscription at a special rate. Before you agree, check the expiration date on your magazine to make sure it is actually coming soon. The caller may simply be trying to sell you a longer subscription well before it’s time to renew.

Your CPA Can Help

In tough times, con artists and hard-sell telemarketers try even harder to separate people from their money. That’s why it’s a good idea to get to know your local CPA and learn about the sound advice and information he or she can share with you. Turn to him or her with all your questions about financial issues facing your family.

You seek the expertise of CPAs at tax and audit time, of course. But CPAs also promote personal and professional financial security year round. Visit the CPA Referral Service on the MACPA Web site to search for a CPA in your geographical area or specific area of expertise.

This article was submitted by the Michigan Association of CPAs.


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