Beware of door-to-door magazine sales scams, BBB chapter warns

That door-to-door magazine sales rep with a heart-wrenching story could be running a scam to get your cash, says the Greater Maryland Chapter of the Better Business Bureau.

The chapter issued a warning on sales crews selling magazines in neighborhoods this summer. The Better Business Bureau logged more than 600 complaints nationwide about companies selling magazines door-to-door over the last 12 months -- eight in Maryland. Most complaints say a sales rep took the money -- usually a personal check -- but the magazines never arrived. Other consumers had to endure high-pressure or misleading sales tactics.

The sales pitch could include a hook, such as the assertion subscriptions support troops overseas, a charity, a school trip or even the salesman, trying to get his life back on track. The BBB recommends researching any such sales offer at its site, before paying for a magazine subscription.

Under the U.S. Federal Trade Commission's three-day "cooling-off" rule, consumers can cancel purchases of more than $25 when made at home or at a location that is not the seller's permanent store or place of business. Along with the receipt, a sales rep should give a consumer two copies of the cancellation form that can be sent in for a refund within 10 days of the company getting the notice. The FTC says that if the sale rep doesn't have such a form, don't place an order.

Some exceptions to that rule are if the goods or services are not intended for mostly personal, family or household uses or are needed for an emergency.