No department is exempt from falling victim to fraudulent telemarketing practices. You may receive telephone calls from various telemarketers or "toner phoners" or "pirates" offering you "special" prices on supplies or services.  Agreeing to their offer will cost you more in the long run than you might think. This site contains some important information about fraudulent telemarketers, which will help you determine whether or not a caller is legitimate.

How "They" Operate

The toner scam usually involves a series of phone calls. In the first set, the caller hopes to find a new employee, temp, or person who will freely give information. Posing as an authorized company/college vendor or perhaps as a survey taker, the caller asks the employee to read the make and model number off the nearest printer. What seems like a harmless request and not realizing a legitimate vendor would probably know the information already, the employee complies.

At a later date, again posing as a vendor or a representative of a warehouse, the caller contacts someone in the company/college. If it’s the same employee, he or she may be reminded of the earlier conversation. The employee hears about a tempting offer on toner cartridges that just happens to fit his or her printer. Being told there’s a limited supply, or the offer is for a limited time, the employee is pressured into agreeing to have a case or two sent out. The caller may once again make it seem that he or she is already an approved vendor and just needs a verbal agreement to authorize the sale.

The product you receive is not what you expected. It may be a cut-rate toner sold at a name-brand price. Perhaps a "case" of cartridges contains far fewer units than expected. Or you could discover that the per-unit charge you were quoted referred to individual cartridges, not cases. In any case, the company/college is overcharged for the product. In some instances, companies receive invoices for products they never ordered or even received.

Things "phoners/scammers" might say:

"We are updating information in our system and I need the model number of the copier that is in your office."

"My boss told me to call and get the model number off of the copier because there was 'some kind of mix-up' and I need to make sure that I have the correct information."

"Prices on products are being raised, but valued customers can get a couple of cartons at the old price."

"A customer changed copiers and can't use the supplies."

"Records indicate it's time to re-order."

"There's a special close-out of soon-to-be-discontinued items."

"It's part of your service contract."

"We're handling supplies distribution for your office equipment dealer (manufacturer) and we're offering a free gift if you can confirm your order."

DO NOT give any information to a caller. DO NOT sign and return any order forms faxed to your department by an unfamiliar company. Your authorized supplier has all the account information needed.

Should you receive such a call, simply hang up.