Beware of Toner Pirates
They can be smooth-talking and quite persuasive, but they are nothing more than unscrupulous scam artists with bad intentions. If you are not familiar with “toner pirates,” consider yourself lucky.
Similar to the notorious pirates of long ago, these villains are out to plunder your riches. Armed with a telephone and a bogus narrative, toner pirates call businesses and use scripts to trick office personnel into thinking the call is coming from the company’s regular office products supplier. They then propose special sale prices and offers to the business.
What they are offering, however, is no bargain at all. Instead, their intentions are to coerce companies into accepting supply shipments for copy machine toner or other office supplies that are grossly over-priced.
Some pirates will call a company, ask for the name of the person that orders supplies, request the business address, and then send supplies that were never ordered-with a bill attached of course. Additionally, they will delay mailing an invoice with inflated pricing, hoping the supplies will be used before anyone checks into where they came from.
The office supplies peddled by these bogus firms can cost up to 10 times more than they would normally cost through a company’s usual supplier. And since these supplies may be ordered by separate departments or individuals within the same company, these mishaps can go unnoticed by the business’ accounting division.
10 METHODS FOR SPOTTING A TONER PIRATE
- The company's name is intended to sound like a government agency or the caller claims they are affiliated with a company name that is similar to your own supplier's name.
- The caller insists you act on their “special” offer that day.
- The caller acts as if he/she has done business with you before.
- There is an unwillingness to send prices in writing.
- The caller refuses to give you bank or customer references.
- The caller asks for serial or model numbers of your copier, fax, or printer.
- Offering your office an actual dollar amount is avoided.
- The caller refuses to provide an exact address or PO Box.
- An offer is made to have someone pick up your payment or insists on cash-on-delivery shipment.
- A "free offer" is followed by a requirement to pay a processing fee or handling charge.
TO AVOID BECOMING A VICTIM, HERE ARE SOME THINGS TO CONSIDER:
HAVE ONE INDIVIDUAL BE IN CHARGE OF SUPPLY ORDERS.
Advise your receptionist not give out this individual’s name. Also, make sure your employees understand your purchasing policy and are aware that only designated persons may authorize delivery.
KNOW WHO YOUR SUPPLY REPRESENTATIVE IS.
Check with your local authorized office products dealer before buying anything.
GET THE SPECIFICS.
If they claim they are a current supplier, ask them for your account number or maintenance agreement number. Also, ask for a name, company name and phone number. Don’t pay bills unless they match your documentation.
NEVER GIVE OFFICE EQUIPMENT MODELS AND SERIAL NUMBERS OVER THE PHONE.
Toner pirates will use the information later to convince someone at your company they are legitimate. It has been estimated that nationwide toner pirates have scammed millions of dollars from companies. The best way to avoid being ripped off by a toner pirate is to remember: if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.