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Re: junk mail DVD-debt collection scam? Mark M England 07 Aug 2011 04:47 UTC


According to Title 39, United States Code, Section 3009, the Postal Reorganization Act of 1970:

"If you do not wish to pay for unsolicited merchandise ... you may do one of three things (in each case, by law, you have no obligation to the sender):

    If you have not opened the package, you may mark it "Return to Sender," and the Postal Service will return it with no additional postage charged to you.

    If you open the package and don't like what you find, you may throw it away.

    If you open the package and like what you find, you may keep it for free. In this instance, "finders-keepers" applies unconditionally.

Furthermore, it is illegal for a company that sends you unordered merchandise to follow the mailing with a bill or dunning communication.

If you are aware of violations of the federal law prohibiting the mailing of unordered merchandise, or if you have personally had difficulty with such items--especially if you are sent statements demanding payment for the merchandise--you should contact you local postmaster or the nearest Postal Inspector."

From: SERIALST: Serials in Libraries Discussion Forum [] On Behalf Of tonkery@MINDSPRING.COM [tonkery@MINDSPRING.COM]
Sent: Friday, August 05, 2011 7:52 PM
Subject: Re: [SERIALST] junk mail DVD-debt collection scam?


I have worked for a number library supply companies and libraries.  I would advise them to take the following action.

If I were feeling generous, I would develop a standard form letter asking them to provide the order number and date of the order.

However given your workload, I would simply state that the library receives hundreds of pieces of junk mail each week.  Any unsolicited material sent to the library is thrown away and the library has no responsibility in this matter.

You are under no obligation to return the material, open it or do anything with it.
Dan Tonkery
Content Strategies

-----Original Message-----
From: "Cook, Eleanor"
Sent: Aug 5, 2011 8:23 PM
Subject: Re: [SERIALST] junk mail DVD-debt collection scam?


This sounds like a variation of the business directory and related scams documented on ACQNET-L for a number of years.  Check the ACQNET-L archives - under the subject "business directory scam" for various strategies for dealing with unsolicted materials received followed by attempted billings. Rick Anderson has documented these and may contact you with more advice.

Bottom line:  if you did not order it and they have no reference to a PO - you do not have to pay for it.  Return the material asap if you have it in your possession, but if you can't even locate proof of receipt (often the case)  reply to them with strong language that you don't have possession, won't pay and for them to give it up.

I inherited one of these when I arrived at ECU and I created a letter that basically told them to go away and would send it by email and/or fax every time they attempted to contact me. They did eventually go away.


Eleanor I. Cook
Assistant Director for Collections & Technical Services
Academic Library Services -- Joyner Library
East Carolina University
East Fifth Street
Greenville, NC 27858
252-328-4834 fax
From: SERIALST: Serials in Libraries Discussion Forum [SERIALST@LIST.UVM.EDU] on behalf of Diane Westerfield [Diane.Westerfield@COLORADOCOLLEGE.EDU]
Sent: Friday, August 05, 2011 4:36 PM
Subject: [SERIALST] junk mail DVD-debt collection scam?


We received a DVD in the mail some months ago.  The original letter looked like a typical junk mail missive and mentioned that someone at our institution had requested the DVD.  Which is highly unlikely, as video requests go through other channels.  As we get a lot of junk mail sent to variations of Tutt Library Periodicals, in addition to unwanted/free books & periodicals generally, I think I tossed this on the discard shelf.  It’s been some months since the original DVD came and my memory is a bit hazy.

We’ve since gotten a few notices threatening that we’d be turned over to debt collectors, and today I’ve a notice from a debt collection agency.  They want $60.  Note this isn’t addressed to me – it is one of the variations of this periodical name (T LIBRARY PERIODIC) which seems to have been traded around junk mail lists.

Just wondering if anyone has experienced this before and whether it’s a scam.  Should I just ignore the notices?  At my previous library job we also got lots of unwanted things, such as large Scientology tomes and a little statue of a saint.  They were recycled or given away.   I’m not aware of us ever being shaken down afterward for an unrequested item.


Diane Westerfield, Electronic Resources & Serials Librarian
Tutt Library, Colorado College
(719) 389-6661
(719) 389-6082 (fax)