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Did a product show up that you never ordered? Federal law says you don't have to pay.

Many subscription offers are tempting, especially if they offer a free trial period before you commit. But what if you’re getting a magazine subscription you never ordered? How do you stop it?

The FTC is hearing from folks who are being charged for subscriptions they don’t want and never ordered. When contacted, some magazines say that people must speak to a different company. People also report getting error messages when they try to cancel online.

To stop a subscription you’re enrolled in:

First, know that you never have to pay for something you didn’t order. If you get it in the mail, you never have to return it. If, somehow, they got your billing info, that unauthorized debiting — a crime. 

Contact the company that runs the subscription you want to cancel. If the company has instructions on how to cancel, follow those. Keep a copy of your cancellation request, along with notes about any conversations you had and how and when you canceled.

Watch your bank or credit card statements. Check for charges on your debit or credit card after you canceled the subscription. If a company won’t stop charging your account after you’ve tried to cancel a subscription, file a dispute (also called a “chargeback”) with your credit or debit card.

  • Online: Log onto your credit or debit card online account and go through the dispute process.
  • By phone: Call the phone number on the back of your card and tell the company why you’re filing a dispute.

Follow up with a letter to your credit or debit card company. Follow up in writing by sending a letter to the address listed for billing disputes or errors. Use this sample letter.

If you’ve been charged for a subscription you didn’t agree to, report it to the FTC at or your state attorney general.

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The purpose of this blog and its comments section is to inform readers about Federal Trade Commission activity, and share information to help them avoid, report, and recover from fraud, scams, and bad business practices. Your thoughts, ideas, and concerns are welcome, and we encourage comments. But keep in mind, this is a moderated blog. We review all comments before they are posted, and we won’t post comments that don’t comply with our commenting policy. We expect commenters to treat each other and the blog writers with respect.

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May 19, 2023

What always works for me if I haven’t been charged yet I simply write “cancel” on the front of the bill and mail it back in the envelope provided as if it were a payment and I usually don’t ever hear from them again.

Helen Carpenter
May 19, 2023

Great information! Thank you.

May 19, 2023

I had it happen once when I ordered something on line. It was charged to my credit card. I called the credit card company and was told that sometimes when you order on line a subscription is added to the order. The credit card canceled the payment and I had no more problem with it.

May 19, 2023

Well, you make it sound easy and most of us have followed these suggestions. The problem is that sometimes it goes on for months before the problem is solved. The underside is that many of these companies turn over the account to a collection agency quickly…these agencies are vultures. They care not what the story is. And, then your credit file is hit. It’s all a rabbit hole and seriously upsetting!

May 23, 2023

In reply to by Linda

I agree cos now my credit is bad & no matter what I do my credit score stays the same & I can’t even rent a house or apartment. Very bad!!!

September 05, 2023

In reply to by C. D. CHUNGINSKI

CD, I think Ms Linda is "right on." Collection agencies & employees don't make much money, BUT they could be much nicer and have some compassion for people, but they really can't get involved.

September 05, 2023

In reply to by Linda

I think what you mentioned is happening to me! I purchased a Microwave from a BestBuy partner (Pacific Sales) in Huntington Beach, which I thought was a reputable company. When I purchased the oven I became a member of the Best Buy "Totaltech." All of that went on my credit card on 3/2/2022. On 5/10/2022 I wrote a check to pay in full. I had zero balance.
On 3/24/2023, there was a Best Buy Renewal - Totaltech Year membership for $217.49. As soon as I found out about this auto charge I phoned Best Buy to CANCEL that membership. Since 3/24/23 I have spoken many times with reps from CitiBank (Michelle and many others), phoned Best Buy and went there several times to get this charge taken care of, and of course, went to Geek Squad who is evidently the people who WILL NOT TAKE THIS CHARGE OFF MY ACCOUNT. Seems like no one is in charge ... could it be a SCAM!???

October 26, 2023

In reply to by Linda

I had to contact my credit card company and tell them not to accept charges from the magazine company.

Dawn Messer
May 23, 2023

I was done the same way. I didn't order the book it came in the mail the company says it unsuccessfully contacted me 14 times trying to get the money. They never did that at all and they were threatening me with collection agency I did the best thing I contacted both the FTC and Ohio Attorney Generals Office. The company's answer was to the Attorney General s Office was according to our records the book was returned. Sorry for the inconvenience it was over 4 months since I have sent the book back. Getting a threatening letter is no joke I feel companies who do business like this should answer to what they're doing I would give out the company name but I don't want to be held accountable but I will say this it is bad business practices and something should be done

William Raynor
May 23, 2023

Thank you for this message because this is happening to me and it's frustrating because I'm getting bills for subscriptions Ieither canceled or didn't order.

Patricia Barnes
May 23, 2023

A few years back I was getting magazines from a company for a specified amount. All of a sudden I was getting billed for $199.00 per month. I couldn't afford that. I was in contact with the magazine company when a nice woman called me and helped me get out of the program. After I was no longer enrolled and the problem was taken care of, a lawyer from a collection agency called me for back payments that I did not owe. He wouldn't believe me and put a red flag on my name which is still there. He did this illegally. The big problem is he only identified as "law offices" which tells me nothing on how to sue him or get my good name back. I want this man in prison for this I wonder how many other good citizens he did this to.

June 21, 2023

In reply to by Patricia Barnes

Get a credit report and it should show you the information. Then dispute it with the credit reporting agencies. Your report will tell you how to dispute any errors on your report. The FTC website has an link so you can order your credit reports free once a year. I only order my credit reports by going through the website. If you Google free credit reports there is to many options which can lead to fraudulent activity. Good luck.

May 23, 2023

I have had to cancel my credit card and get a new number and card to stop this. Lately QVC said I ordered something on "Easy Pay" they subtracted 25 dollars on my Paypal Account. I put a stop to that and got no refund. They still say I owe them 100 dollars for something but they won't say what.

William E Kratch
May 23, 2023

Your warning and etc., is blessing for the general public like me. Keep up this great work!

May 23, 2023

Or seriously the state attorney office will not handle anything like this unless it's over 10k so that's a joke .if and any they won't do any thing to handle it .

Just NM
May 23, 2023

Attorney General does not handle little cases like this

May 23, 2023

Not all credit card allow you to dispute charges online. And be careful when filing a chargeback by phone, especially if it's not for the full amount of the charge. I've had chargebacks be unsuccessful because the person I spoke to on the phone misheard the amount that I was disputing

Alysa Tucker
May 23, 2023

I have done everything suggested but the problem I have had was the companies are extremely sneaky & will have different names for that same company so therefore they will keep trying & sometimes they succeed. It’s frustrating having to dispute 3 or 4 times for the same company but thankfully I was able to get the charge reversed & the company finally quit charging.

Robert Finnigan
May 23, 2023

My worst nightmare came from "USAGrants,COM, maybe the same as USAGrants.ORG, never could find out. I never had any need, want, mistaken, contact with those scammers, yet they bothered me for years with "renewed automatically". They never had my credit card info, but they kept sending me their bills. I wrote them, reported them to FTC, and AG AZ. AG WA. Sent my Credit Cards warnings. Took years but USAGrants.(somebody) left me alone.

Billie Szyszka
May 23, 2023

I am glad to I can just write cancel on my bill, for the magazine !

Natalie Weinstein
May 23, 2023

Great information! Thank you!

May 23, 2023

This is a great article to post. During the pandemic I went online to speak to a Physician. That company charged my insurnace for the visit, and also signed me up for a MOTHNLY FEE (auto charge) I didnt know about until my card had a hold on it for fraudulent acttivity. That triggered the company to send me a notice that "This months charge did not go thru, please provide another pay method" Then the company INSISTED this was REQUIRED to use the service in the 1st place. WHO JOINS A CLUB TO SEE ONLINE DRS? I went round and round with them until I told the card co to stop ALL PAYMENTS and REFUND ANY they already took from me. They are SNEAKY. That takes medical practice down a VERY DARK PATH and its UNETHICAL. The MDS were good, I doubt they are aware of this business model or they would NEVER participate in such fraudulent practices

Matt LaBarre
May 23, 2023

Important information. Thank you.

Gail Chester
May 23, 2023

I asked for free Covid tests, once, by e-mail, in December 2022 when the government announced a program. I got them promptly, but now I'm getting more of them all the time--twice so far this month. Nobody needs dozens of Covid tests! I have not been billed, but I'm afraid they're ripping off Medicare or the CDC.

Gumersindo Bueno
June 12, 2023

I´m sorry, I sent my comment in Spanish. Thanks for your information.

Toni K Hudson
July 19, 2023

My problem is that someone unknown has signed us up for so far 28 magazines and Bradford Exchange packages. Did find out that the return address they are using simple says Richmond,VA 230 I've been contacting each one, explaining and canceling. The first one seems to have been from the end of May but this last one is date stamped June 29.

July 19, 2023

I have had many magazines delivered to me and I never ordered any of them! What a scam

August 07, 2023

I need help. I subscribed to a website to watch the Superbowl. I bought the one day package that day and all. Now, in August, I got charged 265$ out of nowhere in my old debit card, and I got the amount substracted from my new debit card. They're charging me for 3 years subscription when I only bought a one day pass to watch the Superbowl final game.

August 14, 2023

This does not work. Currently our laws allow these charges by including them in a law designed to protect companies from purchasers who cancel a payment for a product already sent or delivered, after a purchase was made.
Only it should not be covered or allowed.
Subscriptions are for a services that has not yet been received by the consumer.
Putting the onus on the consumer to cancel subscriptions is ridiculous.
If the credit card companies allowed the consumer to cancel the pmt. the company delivering the service, simply doesn’t deliver it.
It costs them nothing.
Currently this law makes consumers read the 900 page disclaimers, they don’t understand ..written by teams of lawyers in order to cancel the unwanted subscription and jump through ridiculous amount of hoops to cancel. All the company has to do is avoid the consumer and they collect hundreds of dollars for services they never have to fulfill because the person doesn’t want it?
They just have to have cancel buttons that don’t work oops
No phone numbers published, and if you do call…they send you from dept to dept…accidentally??? hanging up the call multiple times wasting hours and hours hoping you will give up.
If you can click a button, they add small print saying with out a phone call(no number) or email within 24 hrs this cancellation won’t be cancelled and many many more crazy tactics.
They don’t even have to legally notify you that they are going to charge you. If they did I would have cancelled my credit card.

I once logged 18 hrs. And they still wouldn’t. I finally got a persons full name and location by accident …looked up their home address and told them I was getting on a plane and would be on their porch in the morning. They finally agreed to accept my cancel and refund my money?

Please please do something about this. Make laws to stop legitimate companies from stealing from consumers. Make credit companies allow consumers to cancel auto pmt. Unless a product has been sent or received.

Kathleen M.
September 28, 2023

In reply to by Marie

Or, at least impose requirements surrounding notifications of automatic renewals. On Sept. 19 around midnight I received an email that my Netgear subscription would renew on Sept. 19. It didn't provide details on payment so I didn't know what card to check or dispute. I found in on Sept. 19 in PayPal. I contacted Netgear first to cancel and refund, and when I didn't hear back I filed a PayPal dispute. That worked.

This is the main reason I use PayPal whenever I can.

Glen brumfield
September 11, 2023

I got a charge from , Just answer,!! For 46.00 dollars , Does Hughesnet charge to answer questions about installing fusion internet . ?

Elaine Mendibles
September 25, 2023

I didn’t order this and have requested a refund of $ 49 and 3$.33 charges
Please refund my bank account

Maureen Brincat
October 02, 2023

I want to cancel my subscription to Spekadol they have taken over $80 dollars from My account I have no idea who they are

Hanyani Leshaba
October 02, 2023

Amount of R3per day is deducted I don't know who and why

Sifiso Mhlanga
October 10, 2023

I'm having problems with being billed for something I never subscribed to, and this is the third time and these are all USA subscriptions. How do I stop this?

October 16, 2023

They are taking money from my cash app without my permission

Doris Riddley
October 16, 2023

I have call and request not to receive these magazines. I never placed order for this please stops putting these magazines in my yard. Again I never placed a order for this....

Judith adams
October 23, 2023

I think this should be against the law for Amazon to start subscriptions you don’t order when placing an order with them