Children and teens in youth groups, clubs, school organizations are among common peddlers of magazine subscriptions in Johnson County neighborhoods. But sometimes they aren’t who they say they are, and the publications they promise to send will never come. Police and consumer officials say there are many ways people avoid being cheated. Here are a few:

  • Vendors should inform customers of their cancellation rights orally and give them two cancellation forms, one to keep and one to send in to cancel.  The consumer has three days to cancel a purchase over $25 and should receive a refund within 10 days.
  • Fraudulent vendors are often young, and either use tactics to make the customer feel sympathy for them, or find a way to relate to them to break the ice.
  • Customers should make sure they understand any written agreements, and any promises made orally should be written.
  • It is important for customers to know the background of the company selling them a product.
  • If consumers think they are a victim of a magazine scam, they can file a complaint to the Better Business Bureau.
  • Vendors usually don’t drive, but if they do, it is important to get their license plate number.

Sources: Tom Joyce director of marketing and communications of the Better Business Bureau of Chicago and Northern Illinois, Al Perales investigator with the Consumer Protection Division of the Iowa Attorney General’s Office, and Sgt. Denise Brotherton of the Iowa City Police Department

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