Sun-Star subscribers warned of billing scam

Modesto Bee and Merced Sun-Star readers should be on the lookout for subscription renewal scams that have targeted other newspapers, McClatchy Inc. officials said.

No reports of phony renewal notices had been reported by Modesto or Merced subscribers as of Friday, but three or four customers of sister paper The Sacramento Bee said they received letters urging them to send money to Oregon or New York.

Similar scams have surfaced recently at several other publications, including the Washington Post; The Wall Street Journal; The Cincinnati Enquirer; and the News & Observer of Raleigh, N.C., also a McClatchy paper.

Legitimate renewal notices use Fresno addresses – P.O. Box 11907, Fresno, CA 93775-1907 for Modesto, and P.O. Box 11924, Fresno, CA 93775-1924 for Merced. Fraudulent notices have urged customers to send renewal checks to a company called RPS at a post office box in White City, Ore., or pay by credit card at a website operated by a company in Thornwood, N.Y.

Besides RPS, the deceptive notices also carry names such as Associated Publishers Network, said Maria Ravera, vice president for audience development for the Modesto and Sacramento Bees and the Merced Sun-Star.

The company is “not aware of anybody falling for it,” Ravera said. “This is out there and people should just be aware.”

Calling on the telephone is the easiest way to check subscription status or ask related questions, she said. Modesto readers should call (800) 776-4233; those in Merced should dial (800) 540-4200.

People who receive suspicious notices in the mail are asked to notify The Modesto Bee by emailing, or the Merced Sun-Star at