Beware: mag sales can be a ripoff

“Hello ma’am. My name is Walter and I am selling magazine subscriptions so that I can win a trip to Europe. I was wondering if a fine young lady like your self would be interested in purchasing a subscription to help me out. I only need 15 more people to win. Do you mind if I come in? I need something to write on”

Situations like this happen all too often. People like “Walter” are in your malls, on your streets and may even come in your home. What students don’t know is that Walter is also here at Sam, looking to potentially scam you out of your hard-earned money.

Over the years several students- even those living in dorms- have reported being “ripped off” by these magazine scammers. Usually, the student is visited at home by several young adults asking him or her to buy a magazine subscription. They tell the student they are selling subscriptions to win a trip or earn money for an organization and may even offer a “certificate” and booklet of popular magazines to prove this.

The salespeople may even offer the option of purchasing a magazine and having it sent to a charity. The price for a one year subscription will cost anywhere from $24 to $48, with around $12 shipping and handing. They will accept cash, check or a credit card number. They even say they offer a discount to Sam Houston State University students and try to get your student ID. Sellers outside of Wal-Mart have approached students as well.

There are conflicting reports to whether the business that sponsors the magazine sales, Atlantic Circulation Inc., is a legitimate business. Neither the University Police Department nor Residence Life has had any official complaints regarding this magazine scam situation.

The Better Business Bureau, however, has had over 72 complaints about the company in the last 36 months- 19 of those complaints have been lodged within the last year. According to the Bureau, these issues, which range from delivery problems to credit or billing disputes, have been resolved in some way by the company. has had over 50 complaints by people all over the country for the company. The “Atlantic Circulation Inc. Magazine Scam” has also been featured on several money scam Web sites and news reports.

Tiffany Hodges, a student at SHSU, purchased several magazine subscriptions two years ago from the company while living in a dorm. She only received the first three or four magazines of each subscription but failed to receive the rest.

“It’s hard to say [whether it’s a scam],” she said. “The guy who was selling them seemed to be legitimate, but I only received four out of a year’s worth of magazines. You never know.”

Whether the company is scam or whether it is a legitimate business, the fact remains that the campus, including dormitories, has a no-solicitation policy. This means that it is illegal to sell things on campus without appropriate permission from the school. It is also illegal to sell anything without a business license to do so.

Residence Life said that if someone is attempting to sell anything door-to-door in a dorm, call the RA, who will contact UPD. Residence Life also said to especially contact the RA if the dorm is a card-access only building, because outsiders are not supposed to be allowed inside.

Falling victim to a money scam can happen to anyone. Show discernment if buying from a door-to-door salesman and always check for the salesperson’s credentials. The BBB and Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation are also organizations that offer programs to help consumers who are victims of money scandals.

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