(WTOL) - You may have heard that the Publishers Clearing House prize patrol is heading out again in the coming weeks, to award some lucky homeowners a big check.
But at least one man has already had a call from the sweepstakes giant, only it wasn't for good news.
Hey, that's not the Prize Patrol!
This is what most of us think of when someone says Publishers Clearing House: The Prize Patrol knocking on your door with big winnings.
But Matthew Roberson recently got a surprise from PCH and it didn't come with balloons. In fact, it came in the form of an official collections letter.
Matthew told me "I got a letter that asked for $64, saying I owed that. I thought it strange cause I never ordered magazines from the company."
But the letter -- from Penn Credit Corporation-- claimed he had ordered two magazines from PCH, totaling 61 dollars and 92 cents. So Matthew called, and learned it may have been a renewal for a Readers Digest subscription he was given as a gift. "Reader's Digest was a gift from my mother in law," he says.
He called, and says Publishers Clearing House agreed to close his account, and drop all attempts at collections.
But collection letters from magazines are becoming more common.
Hearst magazines-- publisher of Cosmo, Good Housekeeping and others -- recently sent me a letter from their "collection manager" about my "delinquent account"... after I let my subscription lapse to "SmartMoney" magazine. It makes you think your credit score is about a take a huge hit.
What to do if it Happens to You
If this happens to you, and you get a collections letter regarding magazines, you should not ignore it. They can refer you to a major collections agency like Penn Credit, or others. Instead:
But Matthew worries that many people -- especially seniors -- would send the money, and renew a subscription they did not want.
Do they really Send you to Collections?
A Publishers Clearing House spokesman told me the company does contract with the Penn Credit Collections agency. But he says they send an account there only after a year or more of non-payment, and several ignored bills. He doesn't know why Matthew never received any earlier bills, but says had he called to cancel at any point he would not have been referred to collections.
Could these collections agencies put a black mark on your credit? Possibly, though since they do not have your Social Security number it would be difficult. But you don't want to find out.
The bottom line: Try not to ignore magazine invoices. If you are not interested in a subscription, just call them so you don't end up in collections and waste your money.
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