If you run a busy office, be on the lookout for toner pirates. These scammers want to take advantage of your high demand for toner, and could swindle your business out of thousands of dollars!
Common Types of Toner Pirate Scams
Toner pirate scams typically begin with a phone call. The first call can be hard to recognize as a scam, because the caller simply gathers information and may not even mention toner. They might ask you to answer some survey questions or pose as your toner vendor and ask you to verify certain information.
The questions they will ask will likely be related to your laser printer or copier account numbers, as well as the make and model of the device. The scammer might also ask for the name of your toner supplier and the person who usually places the toner order.
Once the scammer has gathered all of the information they need, they will call back later to use this information against you. For instance, they will often claim that they are a toner retailer offering a discount for your specific copier or printer model. Or, they could pretend to be your current vendor, and claim to be following up on a recent order from your office.
After speaking with a toner pirate, you may receive a fraudulent invoice. Some toner scammers even send an invoice without calling you first. The toner pirate will attempt to use the invoice to pressure you into paying for toner you never ordered.
Some scammers might actually even send you a shipment of toner, either to make the transaction appear legitimate, or as another way to falsely claim you placed an order with them and pressure you to pay. This toner is most likely counterfeit and could damage your copier or printer, so don’t use it!
Another common tactic used in this scam is threatening to take legal action against your business if you do not pay. However, you are not legally required to pay for anything you didn’t order, even if they send you some toner with an invoice.
How to Protect Your Copier and Printer from Toner Scams
Identifying a Pirate Scam
Being able to identify a toner pirate will prevent your business from falling victim to this type of scam. Tell your employees to watch out for the following signs of a scam:
- The caller asks you to verify sensitive information (model number, account info, etc) that they would already know if they were your vendor.
- They’re offering a significant discount on toner, such as buy two get one free.
- They pressure or threaten you to pay.
- The company has a generic name and/or unlisted contact information.
- The caller refuses to give you their name, phone number, or references.
What to Do When a Toner Pirate Calls
If you suspect you’re on the phone with a toner pirate, make sure to ask them questions to verify their identity. A scammer will likely refuse or be unable to:
- Provide business references
- Send you written confirmation of your order with quoted prices
- Give you their company’s address
- Confirm the most recent date of your previous order
How to Avoid Toner Scams
To avoid becoming a victim of a copier or printer toner scam, educate all of your employees about toner pirates and what to look for. Employees should also be trained never to order office supplies through unsolicited phone calls. It’s also good practice not to give out detailed information or answer surveys about your office equipment over the phone.
If you have a service and maintenance agreement for your office equipment, make sure that your employees understand whether or not toner is included, so they are less likely to answer calls about toner in the first place.
When ordering toner, stick to one vendor and put one employee (like your office manager) in charge of placing the orders. The fewer people ordering toner, the easier it will be to keep track of your orders and reduce the risk of falling victim to scams.