I wanted to share my telemarketing nightmare story and what was done about it as I've read so many others:
I moved to Houston, Texas after graduating from college. I was teaching and making only 22K a year. I got a call from Big Sky Periodicals in 2003 saying they were the folks that got my magazines out to me. I wasn't quite sure what was going on, but listened to what they had to say. I was duped into getting a subscription to their service and then I talked to the manager to confirm that the person (who said they were new) was "polite and courteous." In the weeks that followed, I got several calls from people that called themselves "The Publishers." I assumed that they were the same company that called before because every one of them used the line about being "the folks that get your magazines out to you." I gave out my credit card number a couple more times. Later on, other companies that called actually read my card number to me. This is important as you'll see later on.
I started having multiple charges from several companies in $50+ amount on my credit card. I couldn't afford to pay these off, and I didn't want to tell my parents about it. Finally, it got to a point that I started talking to my dad. He wondered how I could have been duped into all these services until I started giving him details on what had been said in the phone calls, and then he understood. By this time, I had started getting paper bills because my credit card was maxed out. I was also getting calls and letters from creditors regarding my outstanding balances. I got invoices from the following companies:
Nadine Media USA-Rouses Point, NY
Magazine Service of America-Margate, FL
Community Reading Club of Fitzgerald-Sandusky, OH
Diamond Reader's Service-Danville, CA
Consolidated Media Services-Kennesaw, GA
Publisher's Renewal Service-Danville, CA
I was getting many magazines that I didn't like or want, but wasn't quite sure how to change then since I wasn't sure which magazines came from where. Finally, I gave my father power of attorney and let him take over for me. We attempted to cancel the credit card and told them not to accept charges from any of the above companies. We were told that the card had to have a $0 balance for an entire month before they would cancel it. We started to think it would work and at the VERY end of the month, a charge came through, keeping the account open. We're talking, the last day of the month. Finally, we got the card cancelled. During this time, my father was writing letters and sending them to the different companies by certified mail. They simply said that I had never wanted the magazines and that they were to stop and we would not be paying for them. Only one of the companies responded in a positive way. A couple of the others fought us on it at first.
What made the thing entirely ridiculous was the fact that several of the companies were the same company. Nadine Media, Magazine Services of America, and Community Reading Club of Fitzgerald had identical invoices except for the company name at the top and different account numbers. I noticed that the envelopes they came from were all mailed from the same place. I don't recall the ZIP code, but I do remember that it started with a 1. This is probably how some of them were able to read my credit card to me; they are part of the same company and share the information so that they can victimize people like me. Likewise, Diamond Readers' Service and Publisher's Renewal Service also had identical invoices other than that there were different names across the little globe logos at the top of the page. They even had the same addresses. We did have to pay off a couple of the companies in an amount they settled for. I have all the certified mail receipts that my father got when he mailed the letters (mind, not the return receipts) and the stubs for the money orders that he got to pay off Publisher's Renewal Service and Nadine Media USA. I keep everything in a folder in case I need them for future reference. I made some observations in an email to my father:
"1.) Magazine Services of America's bill says that attempts to bill my credit card have been declined. Yet, when i looked at the online statement at Capitalone.com, it shows that it has indeed been charged. There seems to be something odd to that, and it should probably be addressed. 2.) Despite the fact that i got a phone call from Community Reading Club of Fitzgerald telling me that my account has been cancelled, i continue to get calls almost daily from the company as well as just getting a bill. The cancellation number was TS082503 and the person that called was Tammy. I have not yet gotten written confrimation of the cancellation as i was promised."
To this day, I have only gotten written a cancellation notice from one company. I am still getting magazines despite the fact that I moved and did not inform the magazine companies. I did learn some important lessons in all of this:
I got caller ID which has saved me a world of trouble. I frequently get calls from some 800 number (several different ones) listed only on caller ID as "800 Service." They never leave a message on the machine. I figure that if it's important, they'll leave a message.
I signed up both my home and cell phones on the national Do Not Call Registry (www.donotcall.gov). This has eliminated a lot of phone calls.
Probably the most important thing I've learned is this: NEVER under any circumstances give out your credit card number to someone that calls. If someeone calls me on the phone and I do happen to answer and they ask for my credit card number, my bank account number, my driver's license number or my social security number, I never give it out. The only time I'll give someone on the phone any of those numbers are if I've called to order something or request a service or if I'm giving information to one of my parents.
On a final note, I took all those magazines that I had gotten and sold them so that this whole experience wasn't a total waste. I'm still selling the few magazines that I continue to get.
I hope my story has been of some use to the people out there that have been duped.