Subscribers to the Star Tribune and other newspapers and magazines should be aware of fraudulent renewal notices being sent in the mail nationwide.

Companies operating under names like Associated Publishers Network and United Publishers Network have been mailing new orders and renewal notices to subscribers from publications such as the Star Tribune, Minneapolis-St. Paul Business Journal, Wall Street Journal, the Economist and Omaha World Herald. The Pioneer Press has not reported any incidents yet.

The deceptive billing has been taking place in various cities around the country for several years, said Dan Hendrickson, communications coordinator for the Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota. The BBB has had nearly 900 complaints against United Publishers Network. “The trend is kicking into higher gear lately,” Hendrickson said.

The Star Tribune noticed the bogus bills showing up a week ago, said Steve Alexander, the Star Tribune’s senior vice president for circulation.

“We’ve had 72 calls in our call center on this so far,” he said. “Consumers are being asked to send renewal payments to P.O. boxes or addresses in Henderson, Nevada, and the bills do not display the green Star Tribune logo.”

In one unauthorized offer sent by Associated Publishers Network, the letter states that APN functions as “an independent subscription agent between the magazine publishers and clearinghouses in order to facilitate sales and service.” It goes on to state that, “As an agent we do not necessarily have a direct relationship with the publishers or publications that we offer.”

The unauthorized subscription rates offered by the companies are significantly higher than the most of the magazines and newspapers charge. Some customers are getting charged $20 to cancel renewals, according to the BBB.

The Star Tribune will be running advertisements about the deceptive notices this week. The BBB asks consumers to ignore letters or calls from United Publishers Network or Associated Publishers Network or contact the BBB at www.bbb.org or 1-800-646-6222. Subscribers can get information about their Star Tribune account online at www.startribune.com/myaccount or call for service at 612-673-4343 or 1-800-775-4344. The mailing address for payments to the Star Tribune is PO Box 790387, St. Louis, MO 63179-0387.