The other day in the mail, I received an official looking notice indicating that one of my magazine subscriptions was due for renewal. They provided a couple of ways for me to pay (online, by mail with a check or a credit card). Now, I had cancelled this subscription, so I figured this mailing was probably a third party trying to get me to resubscribe. But it turns out it was more than that – it was a fake magazine subscription bill.
What does a fake magazine subscription bill look like?
In my case, I received a mailer from a company called Pacific Magazine Billing. I opened it because I wanted to be sure that it wasn’t a bill that I had neglected to pay. It certainly looked official. But it was for a magazine I hadn’t received in a while and that I knew I had cancelled. In very small print on the mailing, it said “This is an offer from an independent company, not a bill.”
I can see how you could very easily mistake this for an actual bill for a magazine renewal of a subscription you already receive.
What are these bills really?
These fake magazine subscription bills are actually offers from third party companies. They are offering you a magazine subscription for a higher price than you would pay directly to the magazine publisher, and then they make money based on the higher price.
A quick search for “Pacific Magazine Billing” on the Better Business Bureau shows many duped customers. There are many accounts of angry customers who thought they were paying the bills for a magazine and then not receiving the magazine. The company responds that their offers “clearly state” that they are a third party clearinghouse and that the receipt of issues might take up to three months. Most notably, they frequently resolve the issues by refunding the customers. The BBB has this to say about Pacific Magazine Billing:
BBB files indicate that this business has a pattern of complaints concerning billing issues. Many consumers are under the impression that they are being billed by the actual magazine. Consumer complaints are alleging receipt of billing invoices for magazine subscriptions that did not originate from a transaction that occurred through this company directly. Consumers allege failure by the business to provide a refund or correct the billing. The BBB attempted to contact the company regarding this pattern however the company did not respond.
Some customers received these mailings thinking that they were legitimate subscription renewal bills – while also receiving legitimate subscription bills and then ended up paying twice for subscriptions!
Read Your Bills Carefully
If you’re interested in subscribing to a magazine, I always recommend going straight to the magazine’s website. Often times, that is where you will find the best prices, and you will be able to ensure that you are paying your money straight to the company. You can also always check the expiration date on your current magazine subscriptions through the magazine’s website or on your mailing label. You will see either a four digit code (like 0422 for April 2022 or something as obvious as Apr22).
No one likes bills, but no one wants to pay a fake bill. Be careful and watch out for fake magazine subscription bills.
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Megan is a 40-something government employee in the Washington, DC area. She got interested in Personal Finance when she got out of college and realized that her paycheck wasn’t going to go as far as she had hoped. Since starting this blog, she has managed to buy a house and make a solid start on her retirement goals, and hopes to help others do the same. Here is her story:
In 2007, I was a gainfully employed 20-something with no debt but not a lot of knowledge about personal finance. It was a co-worker’s comment about Roth IRAs that sent me to the internet, searching for information. It was then that I realized that I really didn’t know a whole lot about personal finance and that my current financial situation was due a lot to inherent frugal tendencies, generous family members, a fear of debt, and good luck. While that was working for me, clearly I needed a better plan.
While I had no debt, I was also pretty much living paycheck to paycheck and not worrying about going over budget (I say this as if I had a real budget) because I had an emergency fund set aside to cover any overages.
Except that’s not what an emergency fund is for.
So I did a lot of research, read a lot of blogs, and decided that I needed a plan. I needed to budget. I needed to know what I was spending my money on. I needed to prepare for the future.
I decided to create a blog not only to make myself accountable to others but also to share the knowledge that I gained along the way. I’ve learned so much from my fellow bloggers, and I hope that my readers can find something useful in what I have to share as well.