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Bogus subscription renewals?

By Marcie Geffner · Bankrate.com
Tuesday, September 6, 2011
Posted: 4 pm ET

The Better Business Bureau of the Mid-South, or BBB, is warning consumers about a magazine subscription service that allegedly debited consumers' bank accounts without their permission, supposedly after mailing out notices about automatic renewals of magazine subscriptions.

The company, Global Subscription Services, has an F rating with the BBB and operates with a Memphis, Tenn., address the BBB has confirmed is a rented mailbox at a UPS Store, according to a BBB consumer alert.

According to its website, Global Subscription Services enables consumers to manage and renew multiple magazine subscriptions online, rather than through the U.S. mail.

The BBB said it has received 28 complaints about the company from across the U.S. since April. In these complaints, consumers claimed the company had obtained their bank account information without their knowledge and, in some cases, debited an account without their permission. The company allegedly had records related to some consumers' expired magazine subscriptions and former addresses.

The BBB said it asked Global Subscription Services how consumers' information was put into the automatic renewal program and how the company obtained the consumers' banking information.

In its response, the company told the BBB some consumers were "inadvertently" enrolled, but didn't say how or why and didn't address how the banking information was obtained, according to the BBB.

BBB President Randy Hutchinson said in a statement the complaints were a good example of why consumers need to scrutinize their bills and account statements.

"Someone who isn't paying close attention might think the statement is legitimate and pay it without question," Hutchinson said.

Consumers should be on the lookout for unauthorized charges. Here, from the BBB, are a few reminders.

  • Always review your bank statements and make sure you or a joint account holder authorized all of the charges and withdrawals.
  • Don't wait for your bank statement to arrive via U.S. mail. If you have electronic access to your account, check transactions more frequently.
  • Don't automatically pay bills and invoices just because they're sent to you. Verify the legitimacy of any bill you don't recognize or know that you authorized.

Follow me on Twitter: @marciegeff

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