Scammers stalk businesses of all sizes with the hopes of deceiving you and getting your money. They exist across all facets of business, and they haven’t forgotten toner and printing supplies. Printing supplies are commonly unmanaged expenses and require routine replenishment, making them an ideal target for scammers. Prepare yourself and your employees by becoming aware of how these scams are typically executed and then put systems into practice that make it difficult, if not impossible, for scammers to be successful.
How the Scam Works
Generally, scammers do a lot of research and seek information under false pretenses, in preparation for their scam. Scammers will conduct surveys asking for detailed information about your company and your print equipment. They will also pretend to be employees of your print provider and ask you to verify information.
This information makes it much easier for them to call back at a later date and scam your business, because it makes them appear legitimate and trustworthy. Sometimes, scammers even skip the call back completely and just send supplies and an invoice with enough company information on it to appear genuine.
To entice purchases, scammers offer reduced rates, discounts and one-time or limited-time offers. This puts pressure on an employee to make a quick decision, not wanting to miss out on the deal. They make money by getting you to agree to their deals and then sending you low quality supplies at extremely inflated rates.
The scam can continue on after shipment, too. Toner scammers, aka toner pirates, generally will not accept returned merchandise, regardless of your dissatisfaction and claims that what you received is not your usual supply. This typically makes people believe that they are obligated to pay for the supplies they received.
Toner pirates have thought through the entire process and created work-arounds for all of the twists and turns every scenario could take, greatly increasing your likelihood of paying and their probability of success. However, knowing how these scams work and preparing your business for dealing with toner pirates will decrease your risk of falling victim.
Avoid Toner Scams
There are a number of practices you can implement that will prevent toner scams from working on your company. First, train your receptionists or office personnel to follow these precautionary guidelines:
- Do not give away your copier’s serial number, make or model over the phone.
- Do not give the name of the person responsible for purchasing office supplies away over the phone.
- Do not give detailed information about the organization – including names, equipment details, financials, etc. – away in surveys or over the phone in general.
- Ask for everything – sales pitches, requests, advertising, etc. – in writing.
- Do not commit to anything over the phone, especially from unknown sellers.
- Designate a key operator or another person within your organization to order supplies from approved vendors.
Your organization is at higher risk of being scammed if you lack a process for managing your printing supplies. Scams will easily slip through the cracks if you don’t know what supplies you need, how much they generally cost, which ones have been ordered in the past, who you have ordered from in the past and so on. Avoid scams by implementing a management strategy for your printing supply expenses.
If you don’t already have a key operator identified, do so. Key operators should be fully trained on all printing equipment and be knowledgeable about all vendors and supplies needed for your business. You will decrease your risk of buying toner (and other printing supplies) from scammers by having one person as a main point of contact for all printing related inquiries and issues.
Scammers are also known for pretending to be your print provider because your print provider is usually a trusted vendor that provides you with office printing supplies on a regular basis. To avoid this scenario, only order supplies through a secure portal on your print provider’s website or by calling them directly. If you think you are being scammed in this fashion, notify your print provider immediately.
Scams can’t always be avoided, but being aware of them and putting prevention strategies in place will greatly decrease your risk of being scammed. If you think you are being scammed, contact your local Better Business Bureau, and follow these tips from the BBB.
Is your company in need of printing supply management? Learn about managed print services and how it can turn chaos into order and completely eliminate the burden of supply ordering: