Do to the overwhelming response from my blog post http://listofscams.blogspot.com/2009/07/door-to-door-magazine-sales-is.html , I have decided to reprise the tips list in hopes of reaching out and helping those who may have been taken in by this con. This post is only going to deal with the scam part of door to door magazine sales. If you want to know more about the other illegal activity this industry harbors, please read my first blog post (the link is above). What is happening not only affects the people answering the door to this con, it also affects the unfortunate field agents who try to stay honest in the dangerous environment they are placed in.
Summary: Door to door magazine sales have proven time and time again to be a huge scam on everyone from the outdoor sales rep to the unsuspecting customer. The are several different ways this scam works. Every year reports about fraudulent door to door sales rise. The companies that perpetrate this scam aren't only trying to scam consumers, they scam their field associates as well. These companies are not concerned about their field associates safety or, for that matter, the safety of anyone. The only thing these companies care about is how much money can they get out of everyone. Often times these companies will drop the field associates off in a high crime area and expect them to go door to door selling, putting them at risk.
These door to door magazine sales companies hire a variety of people. Young teens looking to work for the summer, young adults wanting to travel, older adults looking to start a new life, criminals on the run, convicted criminals looking to not get caught again. These companies put everyone together on a sales team, whisk them away to another state, place them in a hotel with 2 or more people in a room, then drop them off in an unknown neighborhood where they attempt to sell magazines.
The door to door magazine companies ply young teens and young adults with the easy money lines. "Make great cash and we pay you for it!" "Travel the country on our dime and make money doing it!" "Sell magazines for us and win a trip or $5,000 dollars." Sound familiar? To a teen easy money for the summer, to a young adult easy money and sales experience, to a criminal easy access to a variety of unsuspecting victims who kindly answer their door to them.
Ways The Scam Works:
The Door to Door Magazine Salesperson:
Since the field agents are left on their own to roam, it is very easy for them to incorporate their own theft - mainly the theft of funds from anyone who signs up for their scam and then gives cash. Don't think giving a check will save you either: your routing number and bank account number are on the check. All the unsupervised field agent needs to do is write down your routing number and account number down on a separate piece of paper along with any other information on the check like your name, address, phone number, and sadly maybe even your drivers license number. Now they have your checking information and can transfer money out of your account. Same thing with giving a credit card number. All they need to do is write down somewhere else and use it later.
The field agents are encouraged to lie to the potential customer about if they get commission, they are told to say they are in a contest they are trying to win a educational vacation abroad, trying to win a scholarship, trying to win points, or selling magazines for charity. They are also told not to give the companies full name only give the initials or give the name of another known magazine door to door sales company. Of course not giving the companies full name or correct name makes it even harder to try and get that cancellation through. So, their sales pitch is based on a lie which they are trained by the magazine sales company to say which only leads to the obvious, everything about the magazine sale is a lie too.
The best time for a field agent to go out looking for potential victims: The holidays. I'm not talking about Christmas, I am talking about any holiday. People let their guards down, and are friendlier and more loose with their money and judgment. Also, banks are closed so if someone gives a check it gives the scammers extra time to hold on to the check - oh, and the cancellation period doesn't take holidays into consideration. The holiday is also an excuse for not being able to get a hold of anyone to cancel because the office is closed.
The Magazine Sales Company:
The magazine sales company themselves do things like give a very limited amount of time to cancel the subscription, may not put their contact information on the receipt, and if you happen to get their contact information you now go round for round with an unchecked voice mail box or answering machine. Chances of getting hold of a human to cancel your subscription slim to none without legal action. Also, the subscription prices are way over market value.
If you happen to find a website run by a door to door magazine sales company, chances are they have a disclaimer that they will not honor anything their sales agent told you, which means if the sales agent said you could change the subscription at a later time or that they would not cash your check until the subscription starts, the company will not abide by that contract.
The length of time it takes the subscription to start can be up to 3 months after they have taken your money. Also, if you opted to pay in installments, well, guess what? You're being charged those installment payments and you haven't received one magazine yet. This is of course assuming you will actually receive the subscription that you paid for. The chance of getting your subscription is spotty at best.
These companies don't only scam people who give them money. They also scam their field agents by charging them for food and the cramped hotel room they throw them in. If the field agents sales doesn't hold up to expectation the group leader can decide to ditch them any where in the country with no money. This practice is widely accepted in this industry because the magazine sales companies don't want to keep an under performing sales person around and they don't want to pay for their transportation home either.
Most cities and towns have a law stating if someone is doing door to door sales they have to stop by the city or town hall and pay for a sales permit. These companies tell their sales people not to get these permits because it alerts the police that they are in the area. Also, a good amount of their field agents could be someone with an arrest warrant and getting the permit would require them to show ID.
Some tips to avoid such door to door scams:
1. The best way to not get caught by this scam: don't answer the door. If you aren't expecting anyone, ask who it is through the closed door. If it's a door to door sales person, tell them to leave.
2. Putting a "No Solicitors" sign is one way to go but it doesn't stop them. At least if they do knock on your door, you have every right to tell them in a not-so-nice tone to get off your property and you will call the cops to have them arrested for trespassing.
3. If you answer the door, don't open it wide and don't invite them in. Even if they say "Can I use your phone to contact my sales manager", "Can I get a glass of water", "Can I use your bathroom" or "It's really hot out here can we go inside and talk where it's cool?" Once inside, this stranger can steal from you, hurt you, or worse.
4. If you do open the door and they won't leave or they try to stick their foot in the door, scream. Yell at them, yell "Fire!", or anything that will get attention.
5. If you live in an apartment complex with a security door remember don't buzz in someone you don't know use the intercom find out who it is. Door to door sales people are known for buzzing everyone in the building to see if anyone will let them in without checking to see who it is.
6. If you see a neighbor being harassed by a door to door sales person call the cops. If you feel comfortable enough walk up to your neighbor and ask what is going on.
7. If you happen to talk to a door to door sales person and don't feel comfortable, call the cops. Chances are they don't have a solicitors' permit and are breaking the the law by just knocking on your door. Also, notify your neighbors and don't be afraid to watch where the door to door sales person goes. If you notice they are going to houses that don't appear to have anyone home, call the cops - they could be trying to break in. In addition be more alert; it is common for a neighborhood to experience a rash of home burglaries, car break-ins, or garage break-ins days after a team of traveling sales people have visited the neighborhood, especially if they didn't get the sales they were expecting.
8. Don't buy anything! The whole point of door to door sales is to pressure someone into buying something without being able to make an informed decision. Even if the sales person tells you their deal is only good through them, don't buy anything.
9. If you do call the police, try to give a good description like identifying marks, tattoos, scars, hair color, height, weight, type of clothes the door to door scammer was wearing, if they had an accent, if they were male or female, if there was more than one person.
Tips for people who gave their hard earned money to these con artist:
1. If you gave them cash, well, you can call the cops but since there isn't a way to trace cash not much can be done. Be glad you didn't give them a check or your credit card number. They can't do any more damage to you.
2. If you gave a check, cancel the check and then try to call to cancel the subscription. I know calling will be fruitless but at least make the attempt and keep a record of it. It would be best to close your checking account because the company and sales person now has your routing number and account number. It can be used to transfer money out of your account even if you cancel the check.
3. If you gave a credit card number, call your credit card company to tell them what happened and give them whatever information you have. Also, cancel the card. You may need to monitor the charges that appear on your account for a while.
4. After you've canceled the check or credit card transaction and you happen to have the company's address, send a cancellation letter with a copy of your receipt to the company. Send it certified mail express - make sure someone needs to sign for the letter. Even if it comes back as unsigned for it is proof you attempted to cancel within the cancellation period.
5. Go to the Better Business Bureau's website and lodge a complaint against the company. www.bbb.org
6. Notify the Federal Trade Commission you can start a complaint through their website.www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/ or call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357); TTY: 1-866-653-4261
7. Contact your state attorney's office and if possible the state attorney's office where the magazine sales company is based.
8. Listen to the advice given to you by your bank, local police station, credit card company, State Attorney's office and/or Federal Trade Commission.
9. If you receive communication from the magazine sales company demanding payment after you've canceled, send them a cease and desist letter along with copies of your cancellation letter and the copies of the certified mail receipt showing if had been signed or sent back. Don't send them originals - always send them copies. If they continue to harass you, threaten legal action against them and follow up with having a lawyer send another cease and desist letter. It may cost you some money but in the end they will get the hint and leave you alone. If they try to mess with your credit you can sue them.
Please take the time to visit these other sites for tips and more information:
List of key words:
Pacific Coast Clearing Services Inc
aka Classic Sales aka Creator Sales aka Elite Sales aka Explorer Sales Inc aka Family Reading Program aka Imperial Sales aka Infinite Enterprises Inc aka Island Sales aka Jaguar Sales aka K T S Inc aka Liberator Sales Inc aka Magazine Rewards aka North American Clearing Corporation aka North American Subscription Services aka Northwest Clearing Corporation aka NCS aka Pacific Northwest Clearing Corporation aka Pacific NW Clearing Corp aka Pacific Sales aka Platinum Sales aka Prince Sales Inc aka Road Runner Sales aka Roadrunner Sales aka Signature Sales Inc aka South Pacific Sales aka Starfleet Subscription Services Inc aka Storm Enterprises aka Success Express Sales Inc aka Superior Sales aka Super Star Sales Inc aka Superstar Sales Inc aka Superstars Sales Inc aka Tnt Sales aka Tornado Sales aka Travel USA aka Universal Sales aka Unlimited Sales aka Untouchable Sales
AHP – Always Helping People Alliance Service Company AllStar Promotions American Cash Awards American Circulation American Circulation Enterprises, Inc. American Circulation Services American Community Services, Inc. American Global Services Aristocrat Sales ATM Sales Atlantic Circulation, Inc Atlantic Periodical Sales Inc
Beyond Our Dreams Chapel Sales Circulation 1 Circulation I, Inc Circulation II Inc
Circulation II LLC Circulation 2 Inc Classic Sales Coast to Coast Circulations, Inc
Colvin Sales Condella Sales Divine World-Wide Ministries Double Douce Subscription Inc DP Sales Dynasty Sale Dynasty Technologies, Inc Editorials International, Inc
Elite Circulation Inc Elite Sales Empire Sales, Inc Entrepreneurs Across America, Inc
Explorer Sales Inc Extreme Marketing Face to Face Technologies, Inc Family Reading Program Farmers Publications Inc Fidelity Readers Service, Inc First Class Sales FLLRD FNT Force Foster Sales Free X Press Freedom Sales Inc Fresh Start Opportunities Fun Sales, Inc Furman Future Gemini Sales Gemini Subscriptions Global American Solutions Go For More Inc GoDoers Enterprise, Inc Gold Coast Circulation, Inc Gold Key Company Greater Image, Inc Great Lakes Circulation, Inc Heartline Foundation, Inc Hoosier Magazines Subscription Service Ice Publications Imperial Sales Infinite Enterprises Inc Infinity Sales Integrity Sales Intercontinental Subscription Service, Inc Intergity Program International Clearance Exchange Interstate Subscription Service IP Marketing Island Sales Jaguar Sales Jamison Sales K & S Enterprises K T S Inc Lamb Sales Inc Liberator Sales Inc Love Technologies, Inc Lrumar Publacations LLC
M.O.S.E.S. Inc. Magazine Fulfillment Corporation Magazine Fulfillment Services Magazine Rewards Magazines, Inc Mag Fun LLC Mags R Us Marketing Associated Group Inc.McLemore Sales Midwest Clearing Inc Momentum Sales Money Train Express Mountain Subscriptions MSI MTX My Travel Job National Circulation Services LLC Nation Wide Travelling National Community Clearing National Community Clearing, Inc National Magazine Exchange National Publishers Exchange NCS New Beginning Association, Inc New Direction New Edition New Generation New Generation Reader Service New Image Sales, Inc New River Subscription Service New Vision No Limit Sales North American Clearing Corporation North American Subscription Services Northwest Clearing Corporation NPE – National Publishers Exchange NRSS Offbeat Services Oh New Generations Old World Elegance Omega Sales Inc. Omni-Droppers Omni-Horizons Inc Otis Sales Overachievers Overachievers Enterprises
P.C.C. - Publishers Consulting Corporation Pacific Coast Clearing Service Pacific Coast Clearing Services Inc Pacific Northwest Clearing Corporation Pacific NW Clearing Corp Pacific Sales Palmetto Marketing Paragon Dynasty Paragon Management Paragon Marketing Group Paragon Sales Paramount Sales Payne Sales PCCS Performance Clearing Services, Inc Phoenix Imagery, Inc Pitts Sales Platinum Plus Platinum Sales PMA Sales PMA, Inc. Points Across America Powerhouse Sales Precision Sales Prestige Sales Prestige Sales, LLC Prince Sales Inc Proformance Clearing Services, Inc Prolific Marketing, LLC Pubco Printing Public Marketing Association Publishers Certified Service Publishers Consulting Corporation Publishers Entry Service Pure Platinum Raiders Rainbow Sales, Inc Red Hot Sales Regulator Sales RLA, INC. Roadrunner Sales Robinson Sales Rollout Promotions, Inc Ron Szitas Sales Roussaw Enterprise SB Magazines Inc Schaefer Sales Schaefer Sales Scoropions Second To None Inc Seedtime Publications Senner Sales Services Unlimited Plus Shirley's Globetrotters Shumate Sales Sierra Solutions Signature Sales Inc SKS Services South Pacific Sales Southcoast Circulation Inc Southern Marketing Group, LLC Southwestern Company Starfleet Subscription Services Inc Storm Enterprises Strictly Business Inc Stubbs Sales Subscriptions Plus, Inc Success Express Sales Inc Success Unlimited Associates Inc Summit Publishers Service Summit Sales Sun Circulation Sunshine Subscription Agency Superstars Sales T&B Sales Team USA Team Xtreme Teamsterz Sales The Experience Company The Real Deal Threedom Sales, Inc Ticoa Corp Titan Sales, Inc - 046 TKO Sales Tnt Sales Tomohawk Sales Tork & Associates, Inc Tornado Sales Torque Power Sales Total Dedication Inc Tower of Power Sales Travel USA Trinity Public Relations True Vision Inc. Tsunami Sales
Ultimate Empire Sales, Inc Ultimate Power Sales, Inc Ultra Kleen Unified Unified Family Circulation Unified Gold Key Inc Unified Producers Unified Stars Union Circulation Co United Entrepreneurs United Family Circulation United Reader Services United Subscription Agency United Subscription Service Corp United Subscriptions Bureau, Inc Unity Management Universal Sales Universal Subscription Agency Unlimited Sales Unlimited Sales Inc Untouchable Sales Urban Development Solutions, Inc Urban Nation Vadar Sales White Sales Wilson Sales Wood Sales Inc World Media Inc World Media International, Inc World Wide Circulation World Wide Readers Service World Wide Reader's Service World Wide Reader's Services WorldWide Circulation Worldwise Subscriptions Corp WOW Industries Xtreme Marketing, Inc Y & S Magazine Y.E.S. Yingst Sales Yoli and Associates, Inc Youth Employment Service Youth Incentive Marketing, Inc Youth Incentive Promotions Youth Incentive Promotions of America Youth of America Program Inc national career awards door to door