Beware of door-to-door magazine sellers

WASHINGTON – It is almost as certain a sign of spring as the robins: Young people showing up at your front door offering specials on magazine subscriptions.

There’s a good chance it’s a scam.

The sellers, often groups of young men, canvass neighborhoods – approaching people on the street or at their front door – offering deals on magazines. They sometimes tell their targets that part of the subscription money goes to charity. But it should sound an alarm bell.

There have been reports of this type of this approach already this year in Charles County, and sheriff’s department spokeswoman Kristen Timko says any seller who comes to your front door should be able to show you a peddler’s permit and the contact information for the company they work for. If they can’t, be suspicious.

Timko says that if they ask you to make the check out to them personally rather than to a company, that’s a dead giveaway.

“An illegitimate company is not likely going to want such an accurate record in the first place. They’re going to want to take that check in their personal name and cash it,” she says.

In some cases, the sales people are brought in from other parts of the country and may themselves be getting scammed by the company they are working for.

Sellers may have come to your front door for other reasons, Timko says, “We’ve also seen instances where people will knock on doors during the day, see who’s home and who’s not home and perhaps use that information to commit a burglary.”

If you’re still concerned, you can check out any company at the Better Business Bureau’s website, at

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