Oh, great: The scammers are at it again. It seems like every time I turn around, there is a warning about some scam artist and the many ways they are trying to steal my money. I have news for you guys: I work hard for my money, and you can’t have it! The latest is a little gem called the “phoner toner scam,” and the ruse is to rip you off while convincing you they are giving you a great deal on printer ink. Read on to find out some tips for protecting yourself from this and other similar scams.
What Is It?
The phoner toner scam is successful quite often and can cost you thousands of dollars, depending on the size of your company. A caller will phone the office and behave as though they have been doing business with you for a long time. They may ask for the serial number on your copy equipment, just for verification. Once you have given them this information, they can find out what equipment you are using. A good scam artist will take this info and tell you all about a great price on your specific printer ink and copier toner. Next thing you know, you will receive a large shipment of printing products that you never ordered. This will not be a great deal: Instead, they will be overpriced, cheap-quality products that you never wanted. The phoner toner scam relies on the invoice being paid before the realization that you are being ripped off hits.
Most scammers rely on asking what seem like simple, innocuous questions of whoever answers the office phone. Teach your team not to answer questions that are not a regular part of their job. For instance, if someone asks the serial number on your copier and you are not the person who oversees office machines, pass the call on. Your answers may open the door to a scammer gathering enough information to cost your company a lot of money.
Look at Your Invoices
Always take the time to look at your invoices before paying them. It is the only way to be certain you are getting what you wanted from where you wanted it. Any questionable charges or products should be followed up on. This extra few minutes could save you a lot of headaches down the road.
Know Your Suppliers
Establish a relationship with your suppliers. Make sure you know who they are and what they are selling. If you always deal with Mark when you place your orders for copier toner and all of a sudden John is calling you with a great deal, ask why.
Phone surveys about the office equipment your firm uses are often a cover for this scam. Seemingly harmless questions can set you up as a potential victim. School all employees to take a message, along with a phone number, and pass it along to your office manager. It is a good idea to not name the person in charge, as sometimes a name starts the ball rolling.
If products that you never ordered show up, the Federal Trade Commission says you don’t have to pay for them. Repeated invoices and threats can be ignored and then forwarded to the FTC fro further action. Scams have been around for as long as there have been con artists. I know people who have fallen victim to different scams, and they feel stupid after it happens. The best way to handle things if you are victimized is to prosecute or at least pass it along to the authorities. At the very least, you will know that you prevented it from happening to someone else.
Have a great day, and don’t get caught by the phoner toner scam.