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Some dishonest companies lie when they say that a product is “no risk.” That’s what the FTC says Progressive Business Publications, a business publication company, did. They had telemarketers call businesses, schools, nonprofits, and other organizations to offer samples of their newsletters and books at “no risk.” But they didn’t make clear that, by accepting the samples, your organization got enrolled in an expensive annual subscription.

The tactics the defendants used were tricky. The FTC says, for example, that the telemarketers routinely asked employees their date of birth. Then, they used that information as “confirmation” that the person had agreed to the annual subscription. They also made it difficult for organizations to cancel the unwanted subscription and kept billing them every month. Then, if someone failed to pay, the defendants sent the unpaid debts to another company for collection. The FTC also sued that debt collection company, alleging that they were aware that many of the organizations had not agreed to the subscription and, therefore, they were collecting debts they knew – or should have known – weren’t valid.

The FTC says that these defendants lied, concealed information, intimidated, and threatened business owners and employees. If you own a business or work at a non-profit organization, be on the alert for bad actors like these. They often target smaller organizations, believing that their threats will intimidate you into paying them. The best defense is an informed workforce.

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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 13, 2020
Good job, and Thanks. Way do we not see the names of these people who are doing this? Where do these scams come from (state/city)?
May 13, 2020
This happens to the normal consumer everyday. The biggest unaddressed scam out there is when you get billed for something you did not agree to and the company submits you to a collection company. Pay or they ruin your credit. Were is the help for the everyday consumer???
FTC Staff
May 13, 2020

In reply to by Carbon24K

If you get receive merchandise you didn’t order, you don’t have to pay for it. Federal laws prohibit mailing unordered merchandise to consumers and then demanding payment. Read more about your rights in this FTC article. 

May 13, 2020
Excellent work on this and long overdue. Great article to help keep our businesses safe from hustlers.
May 13, 2020
God, thank you for you and your office and it's work.
Mama Jo
May 13, 2020
Another thing that annoys me is a "free trial" you have to give credit card info for. Why? That's just purchasing the service. At the end of the trial period is the time to decide if you want to continue or not. I canceled a service after 3 days and they still billed me at the end of my free trial period.
May 13, 2020
Thank you for this encouraging article and all your good work! Good news like this is highly appreciated! The link to unordered merchandise for consumers is also really helpful and should be shared again through the newsletter. My mom often receives offers for "free gifts," such as a book, but it's only free if you return it within 30 days, and you have to pay for the shipping. She received a 4-page letter about all the benefits (this was health-related), with "Free Gift" in bold repeated multiple times. And only on the last page in tiny print was the note about 30 days and shipping mentioned. It would be great if there were a simple way to report these scams the way we can report things to the Do Not Call Registry. Warm thanks again for the critical work you are doing to protect us all.
FTC Staff
May 14, 2020

In reply to by Sandy24

If you spot a scam, please report it to the FTC at The information you give goes into a secure database that the FTC and other law enforcement agencies use for investigations. 

ei in bbl
May 13, 2020
Same thing here. We subscribe to Consumer Reports and were offered free samples of additional health publications. I was interested in seeing what info was in them. Now they are billing us for future issues. Pretty disgusted...