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  • I love those phone calls when they tell me my printer is almost out of toner, and that they are ready to replace it. Then they ask "what kind of printer do you have?" How do they know I'm almost of toner (when I'm not) but they dont know my printer model? They usually ask to read the letters/numbers off the front, usually 3-4 digits they say. I generally proceed to give them numbers like model number 1337 (leet in gamer speak) or model number G-O-2-4311... Usually its only a matter of time until they realize they are getting no where, but one time they were very concerned that i was using a "non-name brand printer" due to the model number i gave them... Its good for Monday morning entertainment.

    Very nice article, was a good read and good information for anyone, as printer/toner scams are the ones i encounter the most.

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  • Good tips and lesson.  Recall seeing the scam mention on Spiceworks threads for a few months.  These [bleep] are being aggressive and clever.

    .

    Josh_Cunning wrote:

    ....Don’t be a “nice” guy — just refuse anything and hang up. You’re wasting their time as much as yours by letting them try to pitch something you never intend to order....

    True.  Makes it tougher for legit sales reps, which I hope the legit reps understand.

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  • Thanks for the warning.  

    I receive a few of these type calls a month and always transfer them over to a bunk extension our IT Dept has setup just for this purpose.  Never provide these guys any info about your infrastructure!  

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  • Yup, had one of these about a year ago.  Shipped mine back to the return address on the box and taped the bill to it.  Never heard back.  They or similar companies have called, but always hang up when I mention we have a toner provider.

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  • WestonH wrote:

    I love those phone calls when they tell me my printer is almost out of toner, and that they are ready to replace it. Then they ask "what kind of printer do you have?" How do they know I'm almost of toner (when I'm not) but they dont know my printer model? They usually ask to read the letters/numbers off the front, usually 3-4 digits they say. I generally proceed to give them numbers like model number 1337 (leet in gamer speak) or model number G-O-2-4311... Usually its only a matter of time until they realize they are getting no where, but one time they were very concerned that i was using a "non-name brand printer" due to the model number i gave them... Its good for Monday morning entertainment.

    Very nice article, was a good read and good information for anyone, as printer/toner scams are the ones i encounter the most.

    The good ol' "I, D, 1, 0, T" model number would've worked good for this one.

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  • I make it my personal goal to end all unwanted sales calls in 10 seconds or less.  "No" is a powerful answer.  It has been hard for me to get comfortable saying it. But learning to say it has made all the difference in the world.

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  • Lying to us is a good first step in establishing a business relationship.  At least we know where we stand.

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  • I believe the law states that if you did not order it, but they ship it anyways then it's considered a gift and thus you are not legally required to pay for it. If you told them you didn't want any and they ship it anyways I would just throw the box away and move on. Make sure to tell billing that they will under no circumstances pay anything from the company and see what they do to "prove" you ordered it. I've (thankfully) not been scammed by these guys, but have heard from enough others to know that it's likely only a matter of time before one of them calls me and tries their best to snag me in. I'd say this is a great reason to set up the fake voicemailbox for Faye Kennit as others have done here - just transfer the call and go back to the other four / five things you were doing before they called :-)

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  • All you need to do is ask for the company name.  They hang up when I ask that.

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  • I was stuck in that vicious circle years ago.  It definitely is a headache to get out ot.

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  • Same goes with people who are doing "Surveys"

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  • Toner, long distance service and light bulbs - I hadn't heard of anybody doing these scams for a long time. When I used to get the long distance service scammer I would tell them that we do not have telephones...

    Never give any names or any info at all to the boiler room callers.

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  • That's the problem with multitasking. When it comes to calls from strangers, I usually drop what I'm doing and devote my full attention to the call. I then usually know within 30 seconds if I should bother and if not, hang up. I then go back to multitasking. In other words a call like that should raise a red flag, and a cpu interrupt to stop all other processes until that item is off the queue. (haha)

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  • You are under no obligation to pay for something that is shipped to you that you didn't order.  If challenged, they have to prove it was requested.  If it's oem toner, go ahead and use it (or toss it) and ignore the bills and threats, they're baseless.  One of my employees was sent toner and when they called from 'collections' I asked for the purchase order - because nothing could possibly have been ordered without a PO - and they shut up and didn't call again. 

     

    j

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  • This used to happen to us all the time, with one unfortunate attempt resulting in toner shipped to us, but I thankfully did not have to go through quite as much trouble as you to send it back. I did threaten the BBB and the Attorney General on the person who finally answered my call.

    Our organization has a maintenance contract for our copiers which includes our toner cartridges. I trained our receptionist to ask them telling questions such as:

    • "Oh, so you are calling with Sharp Business Systems?"
    • "I'm sorry, which company did you say you were calling from?"
    • "Shouldn't you know my copier model if you are our servicer?"
    • "Our Model number is ID-10-T.

    These questions ALWAYS result in a hangup on the other end. 

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  • We fell for one similar years ago involving printer ribbons.

     

    They were going to send us 1 sample to see how we liked them. The box and a bill shows up and we had a heck of a time sending them back.

     

    Don't feel bad...

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  • I got a new variation on this the other day when they said they were from "your copier company" and stated that toner prices were increasing and recommended we stock up.  Of course, I know the lady at our copier company and we have a toner-inclusive contract, so it was obviously a scam.  As soon as I asked what company they were calling from I got hung up on. Good, glad it ended there.  I have flat out refused these in the past and never said yes or confirmed anything, and they've shipped product anyway.  They usually rely on a bit of weakness or vagueness to force through an order, but they don't even always wait for a yes or any sort.  

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  • This has been going on for years.  I have educated everyone in the office on how these toner scams work.  Myself and the receptionist are the only two allowed to talk with these scumbags when they call.  Normally they will say something like, "We are with the printer company, can you give me the make and model of the printers so we can send you a new manual".  I nomally tell them that the serial number is ID10T,  and they will ask me what the make is.  I tell them it is a "Nunya" and they will say they never heard of it.  I say it is a Nunya business.  We do not use our names and we never get ourselves in position where we have to answer "yes" or "no".  I actually have a good time pissing these people off.  

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  • Yep, we still get these on a regular basis but since I am so close to the printers, maintenance contracts I know exaclty where our toner come from for our business so have become well versed in the thanks, no thanks, CLICK!!

    But there are others out there that I have nearly got burned on until I say to myself hang on, unless I call them I don't wnat anything and say, thanks, no thanks and CLICK as I hang up the phone.

    We all have too many things going on to deal with cold callers!

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  • We had this happen to us once.  Receptionist answered the phone told them the kind of printer we had and a week or so later we are being questioned about this bill.  We called the company up, don't think we got anywhere so we sent the toner back along with a copy of an email sent to RCMP scam buster hotline.  That was the end of it.

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  • I had this happen to me many years ago.  Before quick Internet searches would bring you to the information you were looking for.  It took the same run around to finally get a refund.

    Being much wiser I cut them off at the pass.  When they start asking me printer supply questions, I tell them I'm in a lease that covers supplies and hang up.

    There must be some kind of "school" that teaches this type of selling technique.  It's the same selling technique you get from those kiosks at the mall trying to sell you creams and salts.  Got suckered in to that once as well.

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  • Any call I receive from outside the organization goes right to voicemail - sales calls delete

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  • I ran into this one a few years ago, ended up having to send a certified letter to their company to get them to take the toner back and stop harrassing our accounts payable with their phony bills. I still receive 1-3 calls a month from these type of scammers. A real hearty "Hell No!!" usually does the trick

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  • We just went through this.  One of our users approved toner for a leased machine (toner is part of the lease).  I told her to send me the bills and forward any calls to me.  I ignored the bills and got a call from a collection agent.  I told the collection agent that I refused to pay the bill.  I told her not to contact me unless she had a court date or an address to ship the toner back to.  She called me back about 30 minutes later to get a fax number to send me a UPS label.  We shipped it back and have not heard anything else from them.

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  • A while back I we received what looked like an invoice from a company I didn't recognize. I was lucky that I do all the budgets for the department so i was aware that this company didn't do anything for us, but it could have been another department that pushed the bill to us (happens more then I wish it would).
    I called up the company to ask what the $100 was for and they said that it was "just a quote for their services." I talked with our CFO and he agreed that it looked just like an invoice and we reported them to the stats attorney.
    I haven't heard anything about the case, IF anything was ever done.
    Thanks for the article, there are a lot of crafty and horrid people out there.

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  • My response to these jokers is that our current contract with our machines includes consumables and I hang up.  These toner scammers always ask for the IT department.  

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  • I quickly learned and a young "IT manager" for an SMB that the Toner market is a dirty business.  Had a similar experience and ended up sending a letter to the Remit To address thanking them for the gift of toner since the order was never authorized.  Also learned to never answer my phone if I don't recognize the caller ID.  Our reception now knows to transfer any incoming calls directly to my VM.  Sad it has to be that way.  Good post.

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  • I receive calls like this on a regular basis along with a myriad of others that follow the same format but for other products since I am part of the purchasing team.  My best suggestion that makes most of them hang up on me is 1 - let them know they have to be an authorized vendor for your company (whether you do or don't) then, 2 - ask them to send you a fax with their company's information so you can perform a due diligence on their company.  They may ask if you want to save money etc, etc, and you can be polite and say yes, but we have proper procedures we must follow.  I have also found that they use your automated phone lines and receptionists for sources of information.  For instance, I have received calls from these type of organizations where they say "I spoke to John Doe in your IT department or Accounting department and they said you were the person I should talk to about this great offer"  Just another scamming ploy.

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  • We have received bills from companies stating we owed them for toner, paper, other printing supplies, with a real nifty and official looking invoice with an address of one of our branches and a model for a printer. We use one vendor for our printing needs and the bill we got was from an out of state company. I knew off the bat it was bogus but I wanted to indulge myself and looked up the address for where we were to remit payment... Google Street View wasn't exact but it was either an apartment complex or Chinese restaurant in Van Nuys, CA. I tried calling the number on the invoice and it was a disconnected number.

    I ended up calling the branch and found out that someone has recently called and said they were from our printing company (the person didn't use a company name, just said "I'm from your printing company") and said they tried calling IT but no one answered and needed the model number and address for the printer there. Makes me wonder who many people they had suckered in.

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  • I ended up falling for this exact same scam!  Wouldn't be surprised if it was the same company too.  It was a while back, but I remember once I got a hold of someone, no more phone calls were needed to return it.  Although they were quite insistent on me keeping and trying out the cartridge.

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  • I've heard too many stories of fellow IT brethren who get suckered into a scam shipment (especially with toner, it's always with the toner) because they weren't paying attention to the call and gave out information they shouldn't have.

    There is only one rule when dealing with this kind of situation: hang up so hard it bursts the caller's eardrums.  Otherwise you'll find yourself in a web of lies that's practically impossible to get out of.  Great write up, I suggest if you have a receptionist to tell them that any calls not from your service technician or service provider require a swift "nothankyou" /hangup.

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  • According to the FTC:

    Know your rights. If you receive supplies or bills for services you didn’t order, don’t pay, and don’t return the unordered merchandise. You may treat unordered merchandise as a gift. By law, it’s illegal for a seller to send you bills or dunning notices for unordered merchandise, or ask you to return it — even if the seller offers to pay for shipping.

     

    Linky: http://business.ftc.gov/documents/bus24-avoiding-office-supply-scams

    Spice (8) flagReport
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  • "Perhaps the best advice to avoid being scammed come from two things your mother likely told you as a child: Don’t talk to strangers, and if sounds too good to be true then it is."

    Love your last pieces of advice.  So true, so true...

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  • To the scammer:

    What was my purchase order number again?

    What?  You don't have a PO and took a verbal order without a backup?

    Thanks for the sample product, unless, of course, you want to provide a return label for us to ship it back to you.

    Thankfully I have not been duped into this scam but I've had similar offers for toners and special coated paper to clean printers which could have turned into this situation.

     

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  • They got one of my front desk ladies a couple years back with this scam.  Now everyone is well aware to send any and all calls related to printers, copiers, or toners directly to me.  I've found that by simply asking them "what was your company name again?" results in them hanging up 98% of the time.  For the other 2%, I like to have some fun and tell to them that I know they're lying because I have to call in when we need toner because the "auto-toner-level-reader" software doesn't work on our printers due to a damaged flux capacitor in our server room; which is usually where they hang up.  Since starting to make these 2 statements, these calls have diminished to almost none - about 1 every other month as opposed to several per week a few years back.

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  • I've been fielding these type of calls for years. Like Ride said, they get about 10 seconds then it's "Nope not interested" and hang up on them. Be careful of the Survey calls as well.

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  • Great article, here is another twist on that.  They call saying that they are confirming the order for the toner and just want to confirm the printer model #, our company almost got suckered when we had a new receptionist training and she almost said ok.  So I got them on the phone and when I turned the table on them they hung up and never called back again.  When I was the IT manager at a shipping warehouse, I used to get these calls a lot.  The trick they are attempting is that they will get someone on the phone to ok it, and since many companies' accounting departments never interact with the actual department ordering equipment, they just pay the invoice and by then it is too late.

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  • Now hows that for crazy AP just got a call from one of those scammers for toner!!!

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  • Great article. 

    I worked at a company that recieved a long distance phone bill from a carrier we had never heard of that charged more than double our normal per minute rate. After many phone calls and research we determinted that the AR team recieved a check for about $20. They deposited the check reasonably thinking it was a rebate because it had rebate stamped across the face of the check. The back of the check had a tiny little blurb about how cashing the check was authorizing scammer company to change our long distance carrier. 

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  • It's a classic, alright.  We use to call these "boiler room" calls.  You got real lucky getting a return label out of them.

    Great tips! 

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  • I had one where they asked what printer I had. I told them no!!! next thing you know, we get a toner in the mail.

    the shipping address was for a toner distribution center, took a while to find the vendor/scammer address to ship back (at their cost!)

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  • I used to receive several of these calls a month. I found a fool proof method of dealing with these a$$h013$.

    After their initial script reading I ask "And who are you with again?". a few will hang up at this point.

    If they do not hang up, they usually respond with a vague answer . . .  something like "your printer maintenance company."

    I then ask "and what is the name of that company?" most will hang up at this point.

    However, you do get those really persistent ones that will actually give you the name of their company. I then say "You are not my printer maintenance company. By you stating that you are, you just commited fraud. If you do not remove me from your list, you will be working for me next time I receive a call from you or your company."

    They usually then apologize profusely before hanging up.

    Because of using this tactic It has been about 3 months since I have received one of these calls.

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  • When the first thing from their lips is not a greeting or identification (ie They start a conversation like we've been friends for years)  it raises my red flags and as soon as any conversation with a "stranger" turns to toner I say I'm not interested and hang up.

     

     

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  • I usually tell them we do need color toner, we just ran out of plaid toner. Sometimes I request Teal colored toner.

    Our shipping department bounces any inbound shipment that is not on the incoming listing. These folks are scum. We also get magazine and other business literature subscription renewals that are seeking a new accounting person who pays them.

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  • I received one of these wonderful calls last week. Seemed more a scam than a sales call and the people on the other line did not have "email access at their desk". Too many red flags and way too pushy.

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  • This wasn't from Evergreen Ink was it?

    http://evergreenink.com/

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  • I had the same issue a couple of years back.  I just resealed it and sent it back to the sender, but you don't even have to go that far.

    U.S. Postal Inspection Service Guide to Preventing Mail Fraud
    Unsolicited Merchandise (Source: http://about.usps.com/publications/pub300a/pub300a_tech_021.htm)

    A company sends you a gift in the mail — a tie, a good luck charm, or a key chain. You didn’t order the gift. What do you do? Many people will feel guilty and pay for the gift. But you don’t have to. What you do with the merchandise is entirely up to you.

        If you have not opened the package, mark it “Return to Sender.” The Postal Service will send it back at no charge to you.
        If you open the package and don’t like what you find, throw it away.
        If you open the package and like what you find, keep it — free. This is a rare instance where “finders, keepers” applies unconditionally.

    Whatever you do, don’t pay for it — and don’t get conned if the sender follows up with a phone call or visit. By law, unsolicited merchandise is yours to keep.

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  • Perhaps the best advice to avoid being scammed come from two things your mother likely told you as a child: Don’t talk to strangers, and if sounds too good to be true then it is.

     

    Isn't that true though!

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  • Awesome article! I've heard about these types of scams and this advice is much appreciated.

    Thanks,

    A.J.

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  • I used to get these kind of calls back in the 90's I'm surprised it still happens.

    I keep unsolicited calls to a minimum, and abrupt.

    When they ask me if I'm such and such person responsible for whatever, even if they have my

    name correct.

    I usually break their momentum by saying whats this call regarding? which usually ends with no thank you, not interested and hang up.

    The other which is my favourite "I'm sorry I'm not obligated to answer those questions" followed by have a nice day and hang up.

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