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Keyboard Magazine Scam


MarkF786

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It seems I've been scammed by a fake renewal notice for Keyboard magazine. I stopped receiving magazine recently so I checked the website and saw that my subscription expired - but I renewed in June for $19.99!

 

The Keyboard subscription department told me I needed to send them a copy of the check, but now it's no good because it's made out to "CBS", the name of the company soliciting the renewal. Like other people reported in an old thread, I was receiving monthly renewal notices so I finally paid. Now I've been screwed.

 

How do these fraudulent companies get my information from Keyboard magazine to scam me? Keyboard must be giving it out. I don't receive any renewal requests for any other magazine, so it's not just a generic phishing scam; I'm targeted as a Keyboard subscriber.

 

When Keyboard magazine found out this scam was going on, they should have notified and warned their subscribers, especially since their customer information was leaked.

 

Now, I'm screwed out of $20. Thanks Keyboard for not protecting customer information and not warning customers when you knew this was going on.

 

Mark

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I'm sorry to hear of your experience, but that's quite a stretch to hold Keyboard magazine responsible; especially as you don't even know to what extent (if any) they are aware of this scam, or if they have any information beyond what you do about the people responsible.

 

We are all ultimately responsible for our own security, financial and otherwise.

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I do not find Keyboard magazine responsible, but I do find them negligent because:

 

1) They knew about the scam, as posted in this forum but did not notify their subscribers of the potential scam. Only people reading these forums would know.

 

2) The company perpetrating the fraud would have ultimately received my information as a subscriber from Keyboard magazine. If Keyboard magazine did not freely give/sell my information, then I would not have been targeted to renew my Keyboard subscription.

 

It's the magazine industry's business practices that are making it possible for these scams to perpetrate.

 

Mark

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Yes, it's not just with Keyboard magazine - but the way the scammers get your information is from the magazines themselves. Would it not be prudent for them to check the legitimacy of the company to whom they are selling your information? That is what I mean by it's the magazine industry's business practices that is making the scams so easy.

 

Granted, one way that magazines make money (sadly) is by selling your information. But when they know that the scam is being perpetrated, they should warn their customers.

 

If I received a fake bill from someone posing as my credit card company, and my credit card number knew the scam was going on but did not warn their customers, I'd be furious!

 

Ironically, I work as an Information Security Professional for a living. I'm extremely cautious about any computer-based scam. But when it comes to my monthly bills, if I receive a bill from a company with which I have an account, I trust it; I don't verify the address every month. As things are now adays, most company's use third-party billing services, so you can't tell if a bill is legit without calling the company directly and asking.

 

Mark

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Mark,

 

First off I'm sorry about your experience. Secondly welcome to the forum :wave: although I do wish it was under better circumstances. As a security professional I'm sure you know how easy it is for people to get information if their persistent. I do wonder how these companines do get this information. Do companies sell their subscription list to mail list brokers, or something along those lines? You bring up an interesting point regarding third party billing services as they are used by several businesses. I iwsh I had more to add or help with but I don't. I do wish you well and hope you are able to get some justice against those who scammed you.

Begin the day with a friendly voice A companion, unobtrusive

- Rush

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Originally posted by MarkF786:

It seems I've been scammed by a fake renewal notice for Keyboard magazine. I stopped receiving magazine recently so I checked the website and saw that my subscription expired - but I renewed in June for $19.99!

 

The Keyboard subscription department told me I needed to send them a copy of the check, but now it's no good because it's made out to "CBS", the name of the company soliciting the renewal. Like other people reported in an old thread, I was receiving monthly renewal notices so I finally paid. Now I've been screwed.

 

How do these fraudulent companies get my information from Keyboard magazine to scam me? Keyboard must be giving it out. I don't receive any renewal requests for any other magazine, so it's not just a generic phishing scam; I'm targeted as a Keyboard subscriber.

 

When Keyboard magazine found out this scam was going on, they should have notified and warned their subscribers, especially since their customer information was leaked.

 

Now, I'm screwed out of $20. Thanks Keyboard for not protecting customer information and not warning customers when you knew this was going on.

 

Mark

you have learned a valuable lesson for $19. The CBS name was a clue. Plus you should notify postal authorities since this is mail fraud. You should also run your credit report to see if your identity , cc #'s have been compromised.

 

Identity theft is becoming more common and it is a painful experience to correct

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Originally posted by MarkF786:

...

 

2) The company perpetrating the fraud would have ultimately received my information as a subscriber from Keyboard magazine. If Keyboard magazine did not freely give/sell my information, then I would not have been targeted to renew my Keyboard subscription.

 

...

This is not necessarily true. The scams are not just sent to Keyboard Magazine subscribers, and not all subscribers are getting this scam. They target keyboard players and can pull that list from several places including stores where you purchase items relating to keyboards or companies where you registers keyboards and software. It has been a longstanding practice that you dont register items or software for warranty, you register so they can sell your information. If you listed "keyboards" as a hobby on a web site you may have opened the door.

 

Anyway, I get these bogus bills weekly and you probably do too if you have purchasing power at the security company you mentioned. Last week it was a bill for listing our company with search engines. That company sent several printed bills plus a fax hoping someone would slip up and pay. We get bills for web sites, dial up accounts, downloadable software, white pages, newsletters, and of course, toner for printers and ribbons. The most relentless are companies that try to trick us into renewing our web addresses with them. The most deceiving was a company that started billing us for a web sight through our phone bill. That bypassed normal checks, me, and when questioned they could not provide the supposed recording of someone agreeing for the service. I was madder at the phone company than anyone because they allowed a company like that to use them.

 

Robert

This post edited for speling.
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Originally posted by RABid:

This is not necessarily true...

Of course you can never be certain of how they gained the customer information, but a quick Google search will show that the standard model of this scam is to pose as an advertiser to a magazine company, ask to buy their customer list (or a subset of it), and then away they go. Here's a link describing the scam as done by three men who were caught:

 

Yes, it's a $20 lesson I've learned, and I'll do my best to track them through my bank and get my money back, but along with that lesson it's left a bad taste in my mouth towards Keyboard magazine. Though they probably do not care about any customers they lose due to these problems, as most companies no longer have the "customers first" attitude and instead deal with numbers, I'm not paying them another $20 to renew my subscription.

 

Mark

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Hey Forumites,

 

Awfully sorry you got hit with that fake renewal, Mark. I understand your frustration, believe me. Please allow me to give y'all the facts, and to update you on where we are in this ongoing battle.

 

1. We have published info about this in the magazine, and also on keyboardmag.com. The subscriber complaints dropped off after our initial attack on the problem last year. It seems that it's time to do it again, though.

 

2. We are working with the Postmaster General to bring a halt to this practice by "subscription agents". In the past, we've had restraining orders issued for several companies, but the folks who engage in this illegal activity are wily and persistent, starting up new offices as older ones are shut down.

 

3. We don't know how they get our subscriber names, because it's definitely not from us. We rarely rent the list at all. It's usually just to trusted companies that are in our industry, and even then, we screen then carefully. The scammers are not targeting everyone on our lists, so we think they may have obtained names from retailers. We know that people who are not subscribers get the renewal notices, too, so the retailer option seems likely -- but not certain at all.

 

4. When the scammers first got going with this, they were able to actually purchase subscriptions and get them going. But they skimmed money off the top. In recent months, we've instructed our subscription fulfillment house to refuse to accept any orders from agents that are not authorized by us. Therefore, any money people have sent the scammers has led to absolutely no subscriptions. This is a drag. All we can do is to get the word out about what to look for.

 

5. Speaking of what to look for, when Keyboard sends a sub renewal out, it will always have the following characteristics:

 

A) It will contain a letter from myself, from our publisher Vicki Hartung, or a member of our Circulation team.

 

B) It will contain a return envelope with the Keyboard logo on it, as it appears on the cover of the magazine.

 

C) The return envelope will be addressed to our PO box in Kettring, Ohio. The PO Box number will always be 291803.

 

D) Any phone number on the invoice will be our 800 number, which is 800-289-9919.

 

E) The invoice will ask for checks to be made out to Keyboard Magazine.

 

If those above characteristics are not met, then the invoice is a scam.

 

6. I care about every reader. If anyone has any problems with their experience as a Keyboard reader, I want to know about it, and I'll do everything I can to help fix the problem. It wasn't just you who was scammed, it was Keyboard magazine who was scammed. We're all victims.

 

If there's anything I can do to get KB back into your hands, let me know, either here on the Forum, or via a private message, or directly at erideout[at]musicplyer.com.

 

Thanks!

 

Best,

 

Ernie

Ernie Rideout, Private Citizen

Gee, that was quick.

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Ernie: Thanks very much for your post and the information.

 

Mark: If getting a personal reply from the Editor in Chief isn't proof positive that Keyboard Magazine isn't like "most companies" that no longer have a "customer first" attitude, I don't know what is. Since becoming a subscriber to Keyboard a little over a year ago, I personally have been amazed at the personal attention that Ernie and his staff give to average, everyday readers over and over again. Based on my experience, when Ernie says he cares about every reader, he absolutely means it, and time and again his actions back up his words! (Perhaps you might also appreciate the fact that, despite your self-righteous certainty that the Magazine was responsible for selling the information at issue here, Ernie picked a very polite and diplomatic way of telling you that you're wrong. I'm certain that I would have been far less diplomatic, but perhaps that's just one among many reasons why I'm not the editor of a major music magazine.)

 

Hope you find a way to get your 20 bucks back.

 

Noah

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Originally posted by Ernie Rideout:

In recent months, we've instructed our subscription fulfillment house to refuse to accept any orders from agents that are not authorized by us. Therefore, any money people have sent the scammers has led to absolutely no subscriptions. This is a drag. All we can do is to get the word out about what to look for.

That's interesting... A while back I bought a subscription to Keyboard from a kid in our neighborhood who was selling magazine subscriptions for his school. The magazine never came. I figured he just botched the order or forgot to turn it in - I didn't really give it much thought. I wonder if maybe the agent was not recognized by the magazine as legitimate?? Not a big deal - just curious.

 

Thanks for the response Ernie! :thu:

Reality is like the sun - you can block it out for a time but it ain't goin' away...
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Originally posted by kad:

That's interesting... A while back I bought a subscription to Keyboard from a kid in our neighborhood who was selling magazine subscriptions for his school. The magazine never came. I figured he just botched the order or forgot to turn it in - I didn't really give it much thought. I wonder if maybe the agent was not recognized by the magazine as legitimate?? Not a big deal - just curious.

 

Did you know the kid or did he tell you he was from the neighborhood? I've had guys knock on my door and tell me they were from some local organization that was selling subscriptions as a fundraiser. I saw one guy a little while after he stopped by my house in a van with a bunch of other guys. The van had Alabama or Arkansas (IIRC) plates. A week later there was a story on the news about a van that was in a bad accident in Wisconsin. The van looked similar with plates from the same state and it was full of guys supposedly selling magazine subscriptions. One guy said he was here from Ireland and was doing it to make enough money to get back home. I've also received renewal notices for magazines I don't subscribe to.
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  • 4 months later...

I just wanted to let y'all know (including Ernie) that I just got one of these in the mail today. It's from "Rapid Magazine Collection" and the address is 4089 S 84th # 302, Omaha, NE, 68127-1701 and a "service" number of 866-470-6869.

 

If anyone at Keyboard wants more info from what I received, let me know.

"I'm so crazy, I don't know this is impossible! Hoo hoo!" - Daffy Duck

 

"The good news is that once you start piano you never have to worry about getting laid again. More time to practice!" - MOI

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So I encountered a little different twist on this story. I *believe* I received a legit bill in the mail, since it has the "official" Keyboard logo, and the return envelope is to the correct PO Box and Ohio town. The phone is an 888 number rather than the 800 number Ernie listed above, and the letter is from the "Circulation director," Phil Semler, who isn't specifically listed above, but seems close enough. The strange part is that the letter says that my subscription has expired - even though I believe I am good through October, and the mailing label seems to verify this by including the text "EXP200710." What gives? This isn't an unreasonable time to send out a renewal notice if the subsription runs out in October (a little early by my way of thinking, but other mags often send out early warning notices), but why does the letter say my subscription has expired? Did somebody push the wrong button and send out the wrong form letter?

 

Also, since reading about some of the subscription scams, I thought it might be a good idea to renew via the website. However, there appears to be no place to specify that a subscription is a renewal rather than new. As good as Keyboard Mag is, I don't want to receive a duplicate subscription - how can you tell that I'm renewing?

 

- Bob

 

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Yep, don't feel like the Lone Ranger.

 

Last year, a so called magazine clearing house contacted us with great prices so my wife and I re-up'd on several magazines to the tune of $100+ dollars.

They started expiring and they never received the money.

I was SO PISSED!

 

What can you do.

From now on...I only re subscribe to the magazine itself.

 

Damn it...I hate a thief.

 

Randy

"Just play!"
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Actually, there are plenty of ways to obtain the data ranging from scrubbing the site to using a packet sniffer. Additionally, a low tech way to acquire a list is via dumpster-diving.
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Definitely mail fraud. Also, just as to who could be getting your information, anyone in the post office could easily see your name and address, mark down that along with the name of the magazine you subscribe to, and BAM! If you don't shred your address labels when you throw old copies out (if you do throw them out) that's another way for someone to get your info.

Steve (Stevie Ray)

"Do the chickens have large talons?"

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Although it could have been mail fraud, I doubt it. That method is too slow, expensive, and easy to get caught.

 

Instead, I suspect a phishing scheme was used to collect the data.

 

Here are some ways to limit the resulting fallout from any arbitrary phishing schemes in the future: 1) wipe/remove all of the cache files of your browser periodically, 2) store your personal data only on removable media encrypted--not on your HD, 3) scan/remove any malware, 4) limit the amount of data that you give out (about yourself) while filling out various online forms, and 5) keep track of all of the places where you've submitted any personal data.

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I use Macs, and I don't go to suspect web sites. Whoever used my name for that "subscription" got it from something else.

"I'm so crazy, I don't know this is impossible! Hoo hoo!" - Daffy Duck

 

"The good news is that once you start piano you never have to worry about getting laid again. More time to practice!" - MOI

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I used MagazinePlace.com. They verified my payment from the end of April. Still my resubscribe notice came in the mail last week. Who to trust? When speaking with the supervisor, I was told to wait until the end of June for EM to validate my account status. The page appeared to be all about EM. I acted hastily, and wasn't aware one was a clearing house.

 

Now I have two different customer service departments which is an uncomfortable feeling. It doesn't help that the publisher and the clearing house return email with unknown recipient.

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I use Macs, and I don't go to suspect web sites. Whoever used my name for that "subscription" got it from something else.
Macs aren't completely immune to various phishing schemes, and visiting "suspect" websites isn't the only way for one's system to get comprimised. Macs can be just as subsceptible to various phishing schemes initiated via email, various forms of intrusion, bug exploits, etc.

 

The point is for one to do everything that one can do to help the exposure of one's system(s).

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Years ago, I learned something from a friend, that I've put into practice since then. Whenever I fill out any kind of form--whether on-/offline--I fill it out in such a way that I'll add an inconspicuous "artifact" (like a bogus--but real--second address, a slightly perturbed phone number, a mispelled part of my name, an age [which I normally will never supply], etc) to part of the information, so that I can tell definitively if an entity has somehow propagated my contact information. I also keep a list of which artifacts correspond to which forms (and thus their respective entities).

 

This way I can confront the culprits everytime I catch them.

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Another thing . . . before doing any business with an unknown entity, do some investigation. Google is your friend. Google for that entity and scams. Check the BBB website to see if that entity is registered with the BBB. If not, then avoid them. If so, then check further to see if the BBB lists any negative reports for that entity. Some other good places to check up on various entities are informercialscams.com, the FTC website, the Thompson business registry, the Dun and Bradstreet report (basically a credit report for companies) for that entity, and the Chamber of Commerce local for where that entity is based. Nevertheless, I've found in most cases that the google and BBB investigates usually turn up enough stuff--both good and bad.
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Macs aren't completely immune to various phishing schemes

 

No one is immune to phishing and things that are "user error" for lack of a better term. I was talking about the points you brought up about malware and data security on *my* computer.

 

You do make some useful points, which we all appreciate. One I'll add, I use a site called spamgourmet.com for disposable email addresses. Like your address "artifact" tip, it can show you who might be giving away your email address, and if your email is given out, it can "run out" so you'll stop getting the junk mail. Worth beyond its free price.

"I'm so crazy, I don't know this is impossible! Hoo hoo!" - Daffy Duck

 

"The good news is that once you start piano you never have to worry about getting laid again. More time to practice!" - MOI

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So I encountered a little different twist on this story. I *believe* I received a legit bill in the mail, since it has the "official" Keyboard logo, and the return envelope is to the correct PO Box and Ohio town. The phone is an 888 number rather than the 800 number Ernie listed above, and the letter is from the "Circulation director," Phil Semler, who isn't specifically listed above, but seems close enough. The strange part is that the letter says that my subscription has expired - even though I believe I am good through October, and the mailing label seems to verify this by including the text "EXP200710." What gives? This isn't an unreasonable time to send out a renewal notice if the subsription runs out in October (a little early by my way of thinking, but other mags often send out early warning notices), but why does the letter say my subscription has expired? Did somebody push the wrong button and send out the wrong form letter?

 

Also, since reading about some of the subscription scams, I thought it might be a good idea to renew via the website. However, there appears to be no place to specify that a subscription is a renewal rather than new. As good as Keyboard Mag is, I don't want to receive a duplicate subscription - how can you tell that I'm renewing?

 

- Bob

I got a renewal notice from this Phil Semler character too. You will notice, however, that he's from "Kettering, Ohio", not "Kettring", as Ernie says to watch for.

 

I also got the "Rapid Magazine Collection" notice as well.

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I got a renewal notice from this Phil Semler character too. You will notice, however, that he's from "Kettering, Ohio", not "Kettring", as Ernie says to watch for.

 

I also got the "Rapid Magazine Collection" notice as well.

 

 

I got one of these as well . I sent them 42 dollars for my 2 year renewal but.... I thought I would have some fun so I made a copy of some school money I have and sent it to them stating that I guess were even as both of us have now attempted to defraud each other. :grin:

Begin the day with a friendly voice A companion, unobtrusive

- Rush

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I've also gotten the "Rapid Magazine Collection" notice. I thought it looked pretty suspicious---only the word "Keyboard" at the top, no way to pay by credit card, etc. (Oh yeah, and I still have 1.5 years left on my current subscription.) So I Googled it and found this thread. It's pretty sad what people will do. I decided to call the number on the notice, which is 866-470-6869. The person who answered sounded like some kid fielding phone calls in his bedroom. I asked if he was RMC and he said yes, then I told him off a bit, lol. Apparently, he even invested in a toll-free number.
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