Brian writes us, enraged at Popular Science for sending him to a debt collector in an attempt to get him to renew his subscription. We were unsurprised to learn that Brian had received a notice from the “National Credit Audit Corporation” of lovely Peoria, IL.
Now, we’re not sure to what extent the magazines are responsible for this company’s actions, but the story is always the same. You cancel your subscription to a magazine or “free trial”, then, magically you get an official-looking letter from NCAC that tries to scare you into renewing your subscription by citing the THE FAIR DEBT COLLECTION PRACTICES ACT and OTHER SCARY LANGUAGE.
National Credit Audit Corporation is owned by Choicepoint, and the complaints on the internet are all pretty much the same as the one Brian just sent us. People sign up for trial subscriptions to magazines, then are sent the scary collection notices. If you get one of these letters we suggest reporting the company to your local attorney general.
Ben, Meghann, and Carey:
I thought I’d share a story about my experience with Popular Science Magazine and their parent company, Bonnier Corp’s , efforts to renew the subscription I let expire by sending me a bogus debt collection letter.
About a year and a half ago, I had the opportunity to subscribe to Popular Science Magazine for $0.01. I never would have paid to subscribe to their magazine, but since it was basically free, I thought I ‘d give them a shot. Their subscription card indicated that the subscription would automatically renew . Being clever, I crossed that sect ion out, initialed it, wrote in ” DO NOT RENEW”, and taped a penny to the card (so they wouldn’t have my credit card or checking account information), and mailed it off. Honestly, I didn’ t think that they’d accept it , but issues starting arriving a few weeks later.
Well, the magazine turned out to be about as boring as I thought it would be, so after a year of tossing issues into trash as they arrived, I let the subscription expire. They sent me the typical renewal requests with “Urgent” and “Time Sensitive Materials Enclosed Act Now !!” splashed across them, but I wasn ‘t interested.
Fast forward to today when I receive what appears to be a debt collection notice from a company called National Credit Audit Corporation (8512 Allen Rd, Peoria, IL 61615).
The letter implies that Popular Science engaged them because I ” placed an order” for their magazine (which I never did), but failed to pay the $15.94 subscription fee . It then goes on to state that the matter can be easily resolved if I simply send them a check. It then goes on to say that, upon receipt of payment, the publisher will reinstate my subscription.
Near the bottom of the letter, there ‘s a full paragraph of very official-looking language that references the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, disputing the “debt ” within 30 days etc. I can scan and send you a copy of the letter if you’ d like.
I called the long distance number listed on the letter for NCAC and listened to the prompts. Their menu system lists a number of prompts, one of which was “If chose to accept a free offer and do not wish to continue the subscription …” After entering the 19 digit code from their letter, I was told that my subscription would be canceled and that I should disregard any future mailings.
So, they’re trying to retain me as a customer by sending renewal offers disguised as bogus debt collection notices from a so-called debt collection agency? I’ ve heard of some shitty customer service, but this takes the cake!
I then called Popular Sciences’ customer service line, and after speaking with one of their agents for several minutes, was told that this is a common practice to try to get past subscribers to renew their subscriptions and she went out of her way to assure me my subscription would be canceled and that they were not really going to send it to a collection agency.
This smells like fraud to me. I tried calling Popular Sciences’ corporate offices at 212-779-5297, but had to leave a message. I don ‘t expect that I’ ll hear back from anyone. I’m therefore submitting this story to you, contacting the Kansas Attorney General’s Office and am calling my local sensationalist news channel’s “Problem Solvers” team to expose this company’s attempt to prey on its customers.
How many consumers would fall for this scare tactic, thinking that f or the small sum of $15.94, they can resolve this “debt” without it impacting their credit rating? How many consumers are already receiving legitimate collection notices and would pay this to have it resolved? How many elderly or otherwise impaired individuals would simply pay this because it says they owe it? This is predatory, pure an d simple, and it needs to be stopped .
To Popular Science: This, you blithering idiots , is why the internet is eating your lunch!
Overland Park, KS
National Credit Audit Corporation [Complaints.com]
National Credit Audit Corporation Re: Golf Magazine [Ripoff Report]