I am sure most of you have seen or been a victim of a scam at one point or another. Scams come in a variety of delivery methods such as email, fax, mail, telephone, and even someone bold enough to show up at your doorstep.

The key to avoiding these scams are to read the fine print, understand what it is they are actually telling you and know that if it is too good to be true, it probably is in fact, not true.

But how do you avoid the scam when you don’t even know it is happening? Let’s say one of your employees gets a phone call. A woman with a pleasant voice kindly asks your employee to double check on the model and serial number to update her system. Your employee, not knowing any better, gives her the information that she needs. Within a few days to a few weeks your business receives low grade toner and/or paper with a high grade price tag.

The bill looks legitimate and if you do not pay it you will receive more bills that become more and more threatening. You may even receive phone calls day after day from the “collections department” of the company. When you try to return the calls you are sent from menu to menu or receive a message telling you the inbox is full and you will have to try your call again later.

So how do you get out of the scam?

  • First things first. EDUCATE EVERYONE in your business about the scam, not just the one who answers the phone. The scammers do a little research and find the names of people within your company and may directly ask for them. Educating everyone will help prevent the scam altogether.
  • If you fall victim to the scam just know that according to the FTC, companies are not required to pay for unordered supplies, not to mention return them. My advice is trash the entire shipment, you do not want to put any of the product in your machines, it may destroy them.
  • The scammers send the invoice weeks after the shipment for a reason. They are hoping the bill gets over looked and paid. Again, if you did not order it don’t pay it. You may even receive a call about the invoice offering to allow you to return the product. Don’t fall for it; they will try to stick you with restocking fees which are very costly. Also, don’t let them offer to negotiate a lower price. Be stern and let them know this was not a legitimate order and you have no intention of dealing with them any further.
  • Never, never, never pay the bill just to give in to the pressure! Once you send the scammers any type of payment you open your company up to many other numerous scams. The scamming company may also sell your information to other scamming companies as a proven sucker.


Here are some additional resources on office supply scams

FTC (Federal Trade Commission)


Better Business Bureau