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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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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!!!

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.

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.