IT’s IN THE MAIL…….BUT WHAT IS IT ?
IT’s IN THE MAIL…….BUT WHAT IS IT ?
2007-02-28 at 11:21:00 am #17778
It’s in the mail, but what is it?
It’s the old graymarket toner scam, with a twist. Local businesses are getting bamboozled by fraudulent companies out to make a quick buck. It’s a scam, and unwitting employees of small businesses are the target. The victims are small business owners who end up with bills they have no idea whether to pay.Then the threats start. Collections, a word no one with a credit report wants to hear muttered, is thrown around like a sword falling from the sky.Here’s how it happens. An employee picks up the phone. On the other end is a pushy so-and-so asking for the owner. The owner isn’t in? The caller just needs to confirm the address in order to ship office supplies said owner ordered. If the employee utters the digits, the callers have their confirmation and the products and bills are on the way, bills that are usually two to three times the amount of what the product can be purchased for at a legitimate office supplies retailer.Nancy Gonzales knows this scam too well. She has been at the receiving end of it more times than she wants to tally, and it took her a while to catch on. Nancy does the books for her and her husband Gus’ businesses El Jacalito and The Hacienda restaurants. So far they have been charged for a Yellow Pages advertisement that never appeared, staplers and the most recent, the one she caught on to, paper and ribbon for the credit card machine.The callers are sneaky, Nancy says. Often they will call first to find out the manager’s or owners’ names. Then they will call back days later to fish around to find out what credit card machine the business uses. If different people answer the phone each time, bingo, the company has the set up it needs.The companies set up their phone lines so that incoming calls are blocked. And they represent themselves as office supply companies the businesses normally deal with, but that is not the company named on the invoice.“If you don’t see it, you don’t review it, you will just pay it,” Nancy says. But now Nancy is on to them. She did her research, and what she found out is that if she receives items she did not order, she does not need to pay. And she cannot legally be sent to collections.Dani McGee, owner of Dani McGee’s Mountain Fitness Center, dealt with a similar situation. A 16-year-old employee answered the phone when a telemarketer called and asked if she was authorized to make purchases. The employee said yes, even though she wasn’t authorized. McGee ended up with a charge on her Verizon phone bill for Web services and advertising she did not authorize.“They were a legitimate company, but their practices were not,” McGee says. She got the charges reversed, but not without a fight.The Federal Trade Commission is on victims’ sides. The agency knows about the scams and can help businesses, churches, fraternal and charitable organizations from losing money to phony office supply firms. The FTC has suggestions.To file a complaint with the FTC or receive free information about consumer issues, visit ftc.gov or call toll-free 877-FTC-HELP (877-382-4357). The FTC tracks the information in the Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to hundreds of civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the United States and abroad.
Ordering ink cartridges can be suspect
Our government appears to be omnipresent in its concern for our safety. Today I ordered three printer ink cartridges from a nationally-known computer firm. After taking my information, the representative said, “I must now ask you several questions.”… “Will this ink be used by you?” and “Will it be used at this address?” and finally, “What will this ink be used for?” Unaware of other than one use for a computer printer ink cartridge, I attempted a ridiculous joke, asking if he thought I was designing a bomb. He replied solemnly that ink contains potential bomb making chemicals and for that he was required to pose his questions.With visions of Jack Bauer at my door, or maybe even extraordinary rendition, I hastened to assure him of the purity of my intentions and begged him not to call the CIA or FBI. He assured me that he wouldn’t, but I surmised that all purchasers of ink cartridges who answered these questions are honor bound not to use them to make bombs. I now will sleep more soundly knowing that my government is ever thinking of new ways to protect me, even some that seem a little, well, curious.