FTC files complaint alleging companies deceived consumers with fake newspaper subscription notices

The Federal Trade Commission has charged the operators of dozens of companies with deceiving consumers by using fake newspaper subscription notices.

According to the FTC’s complaint, through a complicated web of companies, the defendants send consumers “Notice of Renewal/New Order” mailers for subscriptions to newspapers such as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Seattle Times and The Denver Post, and for magazines. The notices claim that consumers’ subscriptions will automatically renew if they pay, and that the price – “one of the lowest available rates” – is authorized by the publisher.

In fact, the FTC alleges the defendants do not have publishers’ authorization and charge up to 40 percent more than the newspapers typically charge. Only in fine print on the back of the fake notices do the defendants state that they “do not necessarily have a direct relationship with the publishers or publications” – and that disclosure refers only to magazine subscriptions, according to the complaint.

The FTC seeks to stop the operation and obtain money for return to consumers.

The full press release is here.

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