Are Free Magazine Subscriptions Really Free — Or Are They Scams?

Free magazine subscriptions, the best way to cancel a credit card, and how to stop junk faxes: Internet ScamBusters #166

Today we’re going to do something a bit different. We receive a lot of great advice from subscribers, but we’ve never really had an outlet for it. Today we’ll share some of the best ones with you:

– Are free magazine subscriptions really free — or are they scams?

– The best way to cancel a credit card.

– How to stop junk faxes.

OK. Here are our picks from the excellent advice sent in by subscribers…

Are free magazine subscriptions really free — or are they scams?

Our friend Jessica sent us this on free magazine subscriptions:

I love ScamBusters and wanted to share this with your readers.

A few months ago I received an offer for a free magazine subscription. It looked like a magazine that I’d be interested in, so I decided to take the company up on the offer and I accepted the free subscription.

Mistake number 1 — I didn’t read the fine print.

Now normally I’m the one telling everyone to read the fine print before accepting anything for free, but this time I didn’t follow my own advice and I took the offer at face value.

That was mistake number 2.

I thought that because I didn’t provide the company with my credit card number, there would be no way they could charge my credit card for the magazines. That was the third big mistake on my part.

You see, the free magazine offer was given to me after I had made a purchase at a certain store. I had used my credit card to make the purchase, and that same credit card information was given to the magazine company, who did indeed charge my card for the subscription after a few months of free magazines.

So the moral of the story is this… free magazine subscriptions aren’t really free if you have to pay for them. 😉 In most cases, you’re only going to get a few months for free and then your credit card is going to be charged for a year-long subscription.

Like your mother always told you, if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. And of course there’s the saying that says nothing comes free. Both would be good advice to follow when it comes to free magazine subscriptions.

The best way to cancel a credit card

This advice came from Judy, who works for one of the major credit card companies:

Many credit card companies let you cancel your credit card by phone. However, always get a confirmation by email, letter or fax. Write down the customer service agent’s name, as well as the date and time. If the credit card company gives you a confirmation number, keep it with credit card statements.

The key is to always make sure that the confirmation states that the credit card was closed at YOUR request.

After one or two months, get a copy of your credit report to verify that the credit card account was closed at your request.

From ScamBusters:

Tip: Don’t cancel credit cards you haven’t used if you plan to buy a house or a car in the near future. Canceling (especially if it’s a large amount of unused credit) can lower your credit score.

To get a free copy of your credit report, see our article here.

How to stop junk faxes

Last week’s question on junk faxes generated some very interesting subscriber comments. You can see the question here (it’s the last one on junk faxes).

Here is the best advice we received:

From Lorenzo:

I just read your advice on how to stop fax spam. I was experiencing this problem even after being registered in the Do Not call directory for over 4 months.

As a non-profit, tight budgeted organization, we could not allow this type of resources waste.

I decided to fax back a warning that read “NOTICE: this telephone number is listed in the National Do not Call registry. Further attempts from your company to fax offers will be reported to the FTC.”

The faxes stopped after this. Please share with your readers.


From Melba:

My fax/phone numbers are on the Do Not Call list but faxes fall under the jurisdiction of the FTC. You can go to their website to file a complaint. They want the phone numbers from the fax, also.

I included copies with my mailed complaint, and the insurance & travel offers have stopped. The hot stock tips have been greatly reduced. One more complaint may get rid of them — at least I will try.


From Earl and Peter:

Why not turn off the fax machine, except for when you want to send a hard paper fax? Instead, set up a software fax program, such as Microsoft Fax. It’s so easy that even this old man figured out how to do it. 🙂

This way, all incoming faxes are in digital format so you can quickly scan and delete all the hot stock tips, etc., and print out only those you wish to keep, thereby saving ink and paper.

Also, you can easily send 99% of your faxes from within your word processor (or other program) of choice.


From Lee:

Just a suggestion… The phone in our bedroom has a silent bell position (or you can unplug it or there is a line switch that just turns off the bell).

My answering machine in another room has a message on it that says to call my cell phone if call is important and/or an emergency and gives my cell phone number. My cell phone is next to my bed turned on at night. (Also, I have my cell phone set up for an easy call to 911.)

The one medical wake-up call we have had was from a person who had followed the answering machine instructions.

Thanks everyone for the excellent suggestions. That’s it for today. Wishing you a great week.