“Reader’s Service” Poses As Publisher’s Helper


Telemarketer: “Hello. I am calling to see if your issues of [A MAGAZINE YOU MAY SUBCRIBE TO] are coming.” If questioned, the operator will claim the call is for quality assurance on behalf of the publisher. It’s a lie.

It’s a scam-start.  An attempt to recruit a client is buried in the chatter. The objective is unwitting transfer approval of an existing subscription to Readers Service. It is a service the consumer does not need at a price the consumer need not pay for a service unlikely to be delivered. Once the consumer swallows the first hook, a request comes to “verify” credit card number information for automatic annual billing. *

Reader’s Service employ’s the operator’s company—in another state—to make these unsolicited calls. An RS listed phone numbers, 866-570-2900, answers as “World Wide Readers Service.” It has other names and addresses—plus a National Better Business Bureau evaluation: A grade of F.

An enabling problem is lax enforcement of the once promising consumer protection idea, DNC (Do Not Call). DNC started out with a promise to penalize unauthorized telemarketing calls. Regulated by the states, lobbyists worked the rules to make enforcement toothless and keep the unwanted calls coming.

Remember DNC—Do Not Call? Consumers had the right to register numbers for DNC and telemarketers were required to electronically remove DNC numbers from their lists–and keep lists up to date. It worked. Briefly.

Rules vary by states but are largely ignored. Most permit not-for-profits to call, allow political campaign calls, and have special exceptions, like one state’s exemption for funeral homes. “Hello. If you or a loved one is about to shrug off these mortal coils, we are running a special. Press one for our coffin offer. But hurry, the offer expires soon. Operators are standing by. Press one now.

The FTC was supposed to enforce DNC but…well, you know the rest.

* See Post of September 16, SimpleEscapes.

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