We’ve been made aware of a scammer calling local businesses offering to sell them copier toner, and we wanted to make you aware so you can avoid becoming a victim.
The caller calls from a blocked/private number, and says something along the lines of, “Hi, I’m Scott Kelly with your copier service company.”
The scammer then casually asks for the model number of your business’ copier. Many people are happy to be helpful and provide the info–but it’s a trap. Think about it: most copiers in small businesses are serviced by local office supply businesses or individual consultants who work an area. They have your copier make and model on file. (Legitimate businesses may call and ask for the lifetime number of copies made on the machine; but not what kind of copier you have or how many you have.)
In cases we have heard about, the scammer makes small talk with the person who answers the phone, and asks questions like, “Are you the person who normally handles getting new toner cartridges for the copier? Because we didn’t have an official contact on file.”
Again, being helpful, an employee at a small business might say ‘yes.’ This is an attempt by the scammer to boost the employee’s confidence in making a supply purchase decision.
Next, the scammer says something like, “We’re calling because the price we normally invoice you for toner cartridges is going up soon and we wanted to notify you of the change. Do you have a pen handy?”
The scammer continues, “We normally invoice you $469.50 for toner; the price of that cartridge is now $560. Should we go ahead and send you a cartridge at the old price before the price increase takes effect?”
This should be a BIG WARNING SIGN. After all, you didn’t call the company who services your copier to get more toner; someone called you offering some. The scammer wins by getting someone to say ‘yes’, and then he/she has you on a recorded phone call approving the purchase and delivery of a new toner cartridge.
The real price of toner for your copier is probably a fraction of what the scammer offered. In the case that someone detailed to us above, we looked up the going rate for toner cartridge for said model and it was $106. The scammer wanted $450 for a new cartridge!
This is not an isolated problem and the scammers may use different names and companies, some of which may even sound legit. The other BIG RED FLAG should be that the number calling you is blocked–any real company would show up on your Caller ID–if your business doesn’t have caller ID, get new phones or a cheap caller ID device that plugs into your existing phone.
Here is a consumer complaint page that shows other examples of this type of toner cartridge scam.
To summarize, the best way to deal with these types of calls is to:
1) Be suspicious of anyone who calls from a blocked/private number or from an out-of-state number that just lists the city of origin (for example, Las Vegas, NV).
2) Make sure your employees are aware of this type of scam and tell them to say, “We’re not interested.”
16 Ways You Can Be Phone Scammed (800notes.com)
Questions to ask Telemarketers (800notes.com)
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