Scams hit newspapers, Gazette subscribers

Billings Gazette

October 31, 2014

A scam that is targeting newspaper and magazine subscribers nationwide has hit Billings and Gazette customers.

Customers and residents may have gotten a bill that looks nearly identical to a normal Gazette bill via mail. The fake bills shows that a customer is due for a renewal. The bills are then directed to post offices in California or Oregon. The bills are produced by scammers that use official sounding names, for example, “Publisher’s Service Exchange.”

Several Billings Gazette subscribers have gotten fake invoices from a company calling itself “Publisher’s Service Exchange.” It has telephone numbers of either 707-266-6673 or 888-586-7753, and the company claims to have a contract with The Billings Gazette for subscriptions.

The Billings Gazette – and other Lee newspapers, including The Montana Standard, The Missoulian, The Helena Independent Record and The Ravalli Republic – handle all billing and subscription information in house. The scammers do not have a subscription list because that information is confidential. Gazette Publisher Mike Gulledge said all customer information is secure and the scammers seem to be sending random bills in hopes of catching customers and getting money or personal financial information. Customers are either asked to pay for a new subscription because one has expired, or the scammers are also trying to get customers to give credit-card information.

“If customers have any questions about billing or delivery, we want them to contact us and be sure,” Gulledge said.

For any questions about your Gazette subscription or billing, please call our customer care representatives at 406-657-1298 or 800-762-6397.

Scams like this have hit publications nationwide, including recent ones in Arizona.

The Arizona Republic reported last week that nearly 350 of its subscribers complained after getting bills that asked recipients to pay up to 20 percent more than the typical cost of an annual subscription – and to provide credit-card numbers and other personal information. The Phoenix Business Journal also reported being targeted.

The Republic reported that the bills come from 44 companies whose names include the words ‘publishers,’ ‘readers,’ ‘magazine,’ ‘billing,’ ‘services,’ ‘payment’ and ‘circulation.’ All are owned by Laura Lovrien, a 37-year-old Eagle Point, Ore., woman. Lovrien is president of Liberty Publishers Service, which owns the domain name for a processing center used to collect payments from newspaper and magazine customers who are led to believe they are renewing legitimate subscriptions, the Republic reported.

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