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Police Bureau

Sworn to protect. Dedicated to serve.

Phone: 503-823-0000

Fax: 503-823-0342

Non-Emergency: 503-823-3333

1111 S.W. 2nd Avenue, Portland, OR 97204

Door to door magazine sales crews

 
Door to door magazine sales crews
Consumer tips on how to avoid becoming a victim
 
The Oregon Department of Justice wants consumers to know about door-to-door magazine subscription sellers, who may use fraudulent or intimidating tactics when attempting to make magazine sales.
 
Frequently, magazine sellers tell consumers that they may purchase a subscription and donate it to a charity in lieu of receiving it themselves, or that the solicitor works for a charitable organization.  ODJ believes this may be a fraudulent sales pitch and no benefit goes to charity. 
 
Some door-to-door sellers have serious criminal records and are dangerous.  Nationwide and in Oregon , serious crimes against persons have been committed, as well as property crimes.  Some use threatening or intimidating tactics to frighten consumers into purchasing a subscription they would not otherwise purchase. 
 
Other sellers are “at-risk youth” types or young adults who were recruited or lured into a sales crew by promises of travel and easy money, and are now hundreds or thousands of miles away from their hometown.  Due to the financial aspects of working for a sales crew, these individuals are frequently in a situation in which they may be unable to leave the sales crew because they fear they will lose the wages the team leader is purportedly holding for them.  They may not have money to pay for a bus or plane ticket home.  An organization called Parent Watch, Inc. (http://www.parentwatch.org/) may be able to assist individuals who are stranded or want to leave a traveling sales crew. 
 
Sales agents travel in groups, usually in passenger vans.  These groups come into a town for a few days and then move on to the next town, never staying in one community for long.  The groups are led by crew leaders and managers who most likely started out as door-to-door sellers themselves. 
 
Here are tips that may be useful to consumers and avoid becoming a scam victim:
  • Be suspicious of receipts where the delivery name or address for the subscription is different than the address of the purchaser.  Or, the subscription is to be delivered to a nonprofit, or is a "donation", sometimes to a vague charitable cause.  Also be suspicious of receipts where the purchaser paid by "cash" which can be easily pocketed by the sales agents.
  • If sales agents suggest that purchasers make a donation to a specific Oregon nonprofit (example:  donate a subscription of a children's magazine to Doernbecher Children's Hospital), this is illegal without the prior written consent of the nonprofit (ORS 128.856).  Doernbecher and other Oregon nonprofits generally have not given permission for such activities.
  • Sales agents often try to convince purchasers that the sales agents are local students, on a local sports team, etc., to make the sale.  Sales agents have been arrested by police agencies for theft by deception by lying to make a sale.  Sometimes sales agents have been reported to use threatening behavior and intimidation tactics to make sales that consumers wouldn't otherwise make. 
Consumers are encouraged to report this type of activity.  For more information on how to protect yourself from becoming a victim or if you want to report a scam, contact:
 
Oregon Department of Justice
Financial Fraud/Consumer Protection Section
1162 Court St. NE
Salem, OR 97301-4096
 
You may call the Attorney General's Consumer Hotline and request a form to be mailed to you.
  • Portland area: (503) 229-5576
  • Toll-free: (1-877) 877-9392
To download a Consumer Complaint Form, click here (PDF)
 
Oregon DOJ Charitable Activities investigates and takes civil action against the companies if the activities involve a charitable-sounding pitch.  Typical violations include: False or misleading solicitations (ORS 128.886) or other violations of the Oregon Unlawful Trade Practices Act (ORS 646.608 et seq.).
 
OR DOJ Financial Fraud/Consumer Protection Section also monitors crews that go door to door for violations of the law, such as the home solicitation (3-day right of rescission) law.   This includes crews selling magazines or other products such as Advantage Cleaner, jewelry, meat products, "local fruit" and others.
 
(Information provided by the Oregon Department of Justice, Civil Enforcement Division)
 

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