Beware of Toner Pirates

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 10/17/2011 - 14:20

If you are like the majority of our clients, you likely have signed on to a cost-per-page copier service contract that includes supplies like toner at no additional charge. These types of service contracts are very common and make up the vast majority of MFP and copier maintenance contracts in the world.

Unfortunately, a form of telemarketing fraud designed to take advantage of the prevalence of these toner-inclusive contracts has been preying on businesses large and small for many years. We call these fraudsters "toner pirates".

Toner pirates typically take advantage of unwitting and often new employees at an office that don’t understand how their service contract works. The toner pirates will often misrepresent themselves as the customer’s regular office provider. They likely will have called the office before to obtain equipment serial numbers, and to learn the manufacturer and model of the equipment installed in advance. They may know the names of key personnel at the victim’s business and drop names to establish credibility. Having gained the customer’s trust through misrepresentation, they then proceed to try to sell them supplies.

A popular ploy in this scam is the "one-time deal". We often hear of the fraudulent telemarketer claiming that toner prices are going up soon, imploring the victim to buy now to save money. This is particularly dubious because the toner they are selling on the phone is already included in the victim's legitimate service contract. Sometimes an order of supplies nobody ever ordered will show up at the office with an invoice and an employee’s name on it. On those ocassions, the company will even receive threatening and sometimes profane phone calls to try to get the victim to pay.

Fortunately, you can avoid being fooled by toner pirates. Never give out information over the phone regarding your office equipment, employee names or addresses. We at Halsey & Griffith already know the make, model and serial number of your equipment. If someone calls claiming to be us asking for these sorts of details, it’s most likely a toner pirate trying to commit telemarketing fraud.

For more information on how to avoid becoming a victim of telemarketing fraud, and how you can fight back if you suspect you have experienced fraud, go to the Business Technology Associations website.