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One of the most common scams to target business owners happens at the hand of what we call “Toner Pirates”. These scammers represent companies that call businesses in an attempt to sell printer toner or ink cartridges over the phone using high pressure tactics.

Generally, Toner Pirates claim to be calling on behalf of your supplier, mentioning the ability to provide better prices that you must take advantage before the end of the day. It is possible they may even know the models of equipment your company uses. The problem is that Toner Pirates are selling high-priced and/or low-quality products.

How to identify Toner Pirates

  1. Pressure selling: they will stress the fact that you have to take advantage of the special prices today (they know they won’t be able to call too many times)
  2. No information: while they will make you think they’ve done business with you before, they won’t provide an actual address
  3. Out of State: if they give you an address, they are usually located out of state
  4. Fake name: they may tell you they are affiliated with a company that currently supplies to you, but they do not have any more information
  5. No pricing, no details: they will often refuse to send prices in writing, provide an actual dollar amount in their quote, or provide references
  6. Free gift: to increase decision pressure, they will often offer a free gift with your order, as long as it is placed before the end of the day
  7. Model and serial unknown: sometimes the caller will ask for your copier or printer model and serial number, which your current supplier already has

Here’s the best way to deal with those pesky Toner Pirates:

  1. First of all, know who your current supplier is and mention them to the caller: typically they will hang up
  2. If they continue, simply let them know you will call your supplier back to confirm the offer
  3. Ask the caller to identify their company name, location, and a call back number, especially if you are not sure who your supplier is
  4. Train all of your employees to avoid buying supplies from unknown suppliers or identify one employee as the person in charge of office supply orders
  5. If you receive supplies you didn’t order from a Toner Pirate’s unsolicited call, you have no obligation to contact them or return it
  6. The key is to realize that the high-pressure sales tactics indicate a targeted scam. Keep in mind, Toner Pirates target an area for a certain period of time
  7. If you think you were the victim of a scam and sustained damage, you may contact your State Attorney General’s Office

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