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 user 2009-10-02 at 2:10:57 pm Views: 64
  • #22528
    Beware the “toner phoners.” Officials from the local Better Business Bureau are warning businesses of a scam where people masquerading as representatives from office equipment and supply companies try to sell inferior products at inflated prices.A customer of an Alexandria company, Cunningham Business Systems, was a recent target.”We’re trying to alert our businesses,” said Robin Guenard, director of operations for the BBB Serving Central Louisiana and the Ark-La-Tex. “Let them know this is out there, there are some calls being made, but it is a scam so be aware.”"I don’t want to see anybody get hurt by something as ridiculous as what these people are trying to do,” said Patrick Cunningham, owner of Cunningham Business Systems.

    The way the scam works, a business gets a call from someone claiming to be with their equipment or supply vendor, and asking questions about the make and model of their equipment and what kind of supplies, such as toner, they need.The scammer then offers to sell products at discounted prices, usually claiming that they are liquidating stock and pressuring the business to make a decision right away. When the product arrives, it is usually inferior and overpriced, but some businesses may unwittingly sign for and use the product and thus end up paying for it.In Cunningham’s case, the caller claimed to be from the company’s satellite office in Ball. The customer was suspicious because they knew Cunningham does not have an office in Ball and did not recognize the caller. They hung up and called Cunningham’s office.

    That, Cunningham said, is exactly what businesses should do if they have any doubts that someone calling them and claiming to be their vendor is legitimate.”Any time someone calls you and wants information about your equipment, or do you need toner … if they’re doing business with you, they should have a record of your equipment, your lease, whether your contract includes toner,” Cunningham said. “If you don’t recognize the person who’s calling, get their number and say you’ll call them back. You will never get that number, and they’ll have every excuse in the world why you need to do this now.”Better yet, call the person you do know before you give any information. If you call your vendor and say this is what’s going on, you’ll find they didn’t call you.”

    Andy Fisher, president of the BBB Serving Central Louisiana and the Ark-La-Tex, echoed that thought.”Any type of telemarketer, you should be very careful about what you tell them,” Fisher said. “Unless you initiate the call yourself, you should not give them personal or company information. You just need to be very careful about who you’re dealing with. If you don’t know them, you shouldn’t deal with them.”