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    The AOS Blog


Toner Pirates: What Are They and How To Avoid The Scams


How to Avoid Toner Pirates


The phone rings at the office: "Hello ABC firm. I'm calling from the XYZ organization to follow up on an office toner order you placed. I can offer discounts and even bonus cartridges because we have overstocked them."

Excitedly, you quickly make an order and even pay for the supplies that you haven't seen. The scammer may begin the conversation in many other luring ways, depending on the type and size of your business.

The supplies may timely arrive in your office, followed by over inflated invoice prices. The products may even be lousy! Have you ever experienced such a scenario in your office?  Well, that's a toner pirate. 

This article highlights the common types of toner pirates, the red flags to look for, and how you can avoid them. Let’s jump right in! 


Toner Pirates Explained

Toner pirates are scammers who lure unsuspecting businesses to purchase office supplies that can be overpriced or of poor quality. The products may even be non-existent.

Sometimes, the scammers may call you to inform you that the prices of toners are about to rise, and so you should place an order to save money. The scammers may even offer bonuses or discounts just to convince you to purchase.

Wondering where the scammers get your business information from?

Well, they do intensive research on a business before calling first. They investigate where you get your toners from and then start to contact you pretending that they are your usual suppliers.

Sometimes, they pretend to update their copier records and collect information from you through questions, and the answers to the questions you provide can later be used to scam you.


Common Types of Toner Scams

Here are the common types of telemarketing scammers to be aware of:


The Info Gathering Call

This is likely the first type of call that you receive. The main aim of the phone call is to collect information. The caller may ask you the make and model of your copiers, your supplier's name, the person in charge of office supplies in your office, and so on.


The Pressure Call

Now that the scammers know the name of your supplier, they may call again pretending to be your supplier. At this stage, they may pressure you to buy from them or give you false pricing so that you can make an order from them.


The Fraudulent Calls

These scammers send you an invoice and may threaten to take legal action if you fail to pay.

Related Article: Self-Maintaining Your Print Devices May Be Costing More Than You Realize.


How to Identify Toner Pirates

Fortunately, there are telltale signs that you can use to know a toner pirate. Here are the common red flags which can help you realize you are dealing with a pirate and not a legitimate caller:

  • The offer seems too good to be true. For instance, the caller promises significant discounts or bonuses, which no other vendor offers.
  • The suppliers' company is not familiar, and you can't find it on your local internet searches.
  • The caller insists that you provide the name, the brand of your office copier, the address of your company, and other confidential details.
  • The caller does not confirm the physical location/address of their business or where they will ship the products from.
  • The caller does not provide written references to show that, indeed, your company previously made an order of the said copiers and printers.
  • The company is persuading you too much to make a purchase or threatens you if you don't follow the orders they give you.
  • The caller’s company name is too generic—for instance, National Supply Products or IT Technology Systems.

Always follow your gut when you get a fishy call. Instead of following the caller's instructions, you should ask the caller more questions to fact-check.

For example, you can demand the caller to provide a reference for the invoices, the pricing quote in writing, or the address of their location.


How to Avoid Toner Scams

Here are practical steps that you can take to keep your workplace safe from the paper toner pirates:


1. Train Your Team Members

Let your employees know of the toner pirates' scams and how they call. Remember that the pirates take advantage of the innocent workers, and training can be a significant step to winning the war against toner pirates. 

Let your team members know that they should not provide any information to the fishy callers.


2. Delegate a Supplies Manager

Delegate the supplies job to one person only. That person will be accountable for all the supplies that your office receives. In this way, it will be easier for you to track the supplier’s calls, including any from the scammers.


3. Hang Up

If you ever receive a call that sounds shady, hang it up. The same case applies to emails and text messages. Don't respond or engage with them unless you are sure they come from a legitimate source.


4. Don't Provide Equipment Details

As mentioned earlier, the toner pirate callers collect bits of information by asking the equipment models and serial numbers. They can later use that information when they call you so that they can seem authentic. 

The best solution is to avoid providing private details on your copiers, printers—or any of your office technology solutions. 


5. Never Accept a Shipment You Didn't Order

It can be tempting to accept a lucrative/lower-priced package that you didn't order. However, the repercussions can sometimes be hefty; hence, it's better to follow your usual supply protocol.


6. Report the Scammers

You don't have any legal obligation to pay for any products that you didn't ask for. If you receive fishy calls or get goods that you didn't order, contact the Federal Trade Commission, the attorney general of your state, or the Local Better Business Bureau.


Next Step: Consider a Managed Print Provider/Local Authorized Dealer

A managed print or copier provider can help you say goodbye to this type of fraud. Keep in mind that toner is provided as a part of your support contract so you should never be charged for the toner. The provider will be responsible for delivering the needed toner and supplies; hence, you will not need to make other orders, translating to more safety.

AOS supplies copiers and printers at affordable prices. Make sure to contact our team today to get the right office equipment for your organization and avoid the common toner pirates.


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Topics: Toner Scam, Toner Pirates

Brad McEldowney

Written by Brad McEldowney

AOS has been providing a culture of care since 1969. I have the privilege of following in the footsteps of my father and grandfather in serving as the third generation of ownership for our company. We sell and service office equipment, software and technology that helps your business or organization run smoothly. We are nationally recognized for the level of service we provide our clients and have seen consistent growth as a result.

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