Spotting Scams On Office Supplies

Office supply scams have become a big thing.

According to an estimate by the Federal Trade Commission, office supply scams cost businesses and other organizations more than $200 million annually across the United States. And it’s not just large companies that are targeted. Nonprofit organizations and small businesses are being targeted in increasing numbers.

What’s a small or medium-sized business to do? Most of a company’s resources are already being taken up by running the business.

The good news is that some simple strategies you can put in place to help protect your business won’t take up a lot of time or resources.

1) Limit Sales Calls

First, have all employees refer any telemarketing calls to only one or two designated individuals authorized to make purchases. No exceptions. These one or two designated employees should receive extra training in recognizing scams.

Depending on the size of your business, you may want to consider banning all telemarketing calls altogether. Sales calls take time, and scammers realize this. They’ll take advantage of you not being able to stay on the phone long and will try to fast-talk you into a “deal” that may be more trouble than it’s worth.

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2) Have Set Procedures

If banning sales calls is not an option, you should ensure outside office equipment sales follow strict procedures. Some recommended methods include:

  • Have a list of approved vendors. If the caller is not on that list, end the call.
  • Only allow sales through a designated buyer, such as an office manager or general manager.
  • Route all purchases and payments through accounts payable.
  • Everything has to have a company purchase order.
  • Ensure vendors include your company’s purchase order numbers on their shipping documents.
  • Inspect merchandise when it arrives. Verify the packing list against in-house copies of the purchase order
  • Document any problems.

3) Conduct Employee Training Sessions

Many businesses conduct regular training sessions to keep employees up to speed on cybersecurity issues. The same should be done for bogus purchasing and office supply sales scams.

Go through typical scam signs and strategies. Underscore the importance of following strict purchasing procedures. You may even want to try some roleplay.

Generally, most training sessions can be done in less than an hour. They could also become a part of already-established training sessions or employee meetings.

identifying office supply scams

4) Learn To Recognize Red Flags

Many office supply scams exhibit common features you can learn to recognize. Most often, certain words or terms used in a sales pitch should put you on guard, such as “act now,” “for a limited time,” or “free.” Usually, something “free” isn’t free at all.

Be suspicious when a caller refuses to provide references or a business address. Ideally, their business address should be a physical location you can Google to confirm its existence.

If the caller claims to have already spoken with someone in your company but can’t name them or only give you a vague answer, feel free to hang up immediately. If your organization is a nonprofit with a lot of volunteers coming in and out, insist this call be handled by your designated purchaser only.

Finally, if the salesman seems impatient or annoyed with you asking specific questions, hang up and go about your day. You just saved your business a lot of trouble.

5) Scams To Be Wary Of

A common scam involves shipping poor-quality products and sending a pricey invoice later. The fraudster hopes you won’t notice the price is higher than it should be or that you’ll have used some of the products and feel obliged to pay.

Hold off on using any shipped goods until the invoice arrives, and you can decide if you’ve been ripped off or not.

Sometimes, a scam artist won’t even ship a product. Instead, they just send a phony invoice. They hope that a busy company or large business can’t keep track of everything that comes in, and they can slip in a bogus bill without being noticed.

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6) Always Remember Who’s Boss

Your business is not legally obligated to pay for anything it receives that it didn’t order. Don’t let any scammer convince you otherwise.

Give Carolina Business Technologies a call for more tips on preventing office supply scams. We would be happy to help keep your business safe and secure from bad sales calls. 704-583-9929