A new scam that sends out bogus newspaper subscription renewal notices has made its way to Alaska from the Lower 48.
The Federal Trade Commission has warned customers to watch out for the renewal bills in the mail that operate under the name Publishers Billing Center. Scammers in California and Ohio have sent out fake subscription mailings to collect subscription payments.
On Oct. 31, the California Attorney General Kamala Harris issued a consumer alert to Californians regarding a scam involving fake newspaper subscription mailings. If the deceptive notices contain self-addressed postage with a Post Office Box or other mailing address that is located from a different state that the publisher should be ignored, according to the release.
At least one Alaska Dispatch News reader received a fake bill that totaled nearly $400, according to the Newspaper Association of America.
Any customers that receive ”notice of renewal/new order” bills in the mail that claims the recipient could receive a favorable price, when the price is actually higher than the annual subscription.
Peninsula Clarion Circulation Manager Randi Keaton said no customers on the Kenai Peninsula have been affected but the scam has reached people in Anchorage. The Clarion has about 3,000 mailing subscriptions, Keaton said.
“It’s not just hitting customers but random people,” she said. “People should be skeptical of these notices if it has a different mailing address.”
Keaton said Clarion mail subscriptions are sent to P.O. Box 3009 Kenai, Alaska. The bill should not come from another company or another name. The Clarion is owned by Morris Publishing Group, a media company based in Augusta, Ga.
Keaton said other warnings to watch for are misspellings on the invoice and to check the account number.
“Our accounts all have “KEN” in front,” she said.
NAA reports the scammers are operating under more than 40 names, including Circulation Billing Services, Publishers Billing Emporium, Readers Payment Service and Associated Publisher Network.
Keaton encouraged anyone concerned to call the circulation department at 283-3584.