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How to Avoid Telemarketing Scams

In supply telemarketing scams, dishonest vendors pose as legitimate vendors of your machine's office supplies. The victim is then billed at over-inflated prices, sometimes for inferior or incorrect product.

Telemarketing fraud typically targets small businesses and charities; however, no business organization is immune.

Typical Scam Tactics

Obtaining information for your office machines.
To establish credibility with potential victims, fraudulent operators will call a targeted business to obtain serial number and model information on office equipment. Often, they pose as the legitimate, authorized source for supplies, claiming they are updating their database and need to verify information concerning your office equipment. A free gift or promotional item may be offered to induce the recipient of the call to provide the information.

Offering the "unbeatable" deal
Armed with information about your office machines, the fraudulent operator is now ready to make his pitch! The targeted business is then called and offered a "sweet deal" on office supplies. Usually, the misrepresentation takes place on the first call, with a second call being placed to confirm the order. This is sometimes done via fax. In addition to the use of high-pressure tactics, typical pitches often include the following:

  • This is a one-time supply liquidation, only!
  • You know, it's part of your service contract!
  • We're the distribution center for your Office Equipment Manufacturer, and we're having a special sale!
  • You'll get a free gift, or a chance to win a trip or car, if you order today!
  • Prices on supplies are being raised; however, we've reserved a number of cartons under your name at the old price!
  • Supplies are being liquidated from a deceased relative's business, at a one-time only price!

When the victim receives the order, they find that the price offered is actually many times higher than what they normally pay from their authorized vendor. Often, grossly inflated shipping and handling, or other miscellaneous charges will be included on the invoice.

Use of threats and coercion
Sometimes, victims of office supplies scams will pay the invoice before realizing that they have been scammed. However, if the victim balks at paying, they may receive calls from the scam perpetrator threatening to refer the invoice to a collection agency, or to take legal action. Abusive language and other forms of verbal intimidation may be used.

Once the invoice is paid, it is very difficult, if not impossible to obtain a refund. In some cases, victims may be scammed a second time by receiving a call from a person pretending to be a "recovery specialist", who claims that they can get the victim's money returned in exchange for an up front payment. The "recovery specialist" then takes the victim's money and is never heard of again.

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