Office1 Blog

What Are Toner Pirates? 8 Clues to Identify Them

calendar icon August 6, 2019 | by Perminder Sian

You may be familiar with the term, “toner pirate.” It may seem like a lame office joke, but unlike the pirates portrayed in movies like Captain Jack Sparrow, toner pirates are very real and can cause a ton of headaches. 

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Toner pirates are scammers that call businesses and organizations pretending to be their trusted supplies provider for printers and copiers. Under this disguise, they proceed to scam the business with unwanted and unnecessary supplies. Victims of these toner pirates often receive low-quality toner with an overinflated invoice immediately after delivery. 

The clues to use to identify a “Toner Pirate”

Though their scam methods are constantly changing, Toner Pirates common traits that you can use to save your office time and money: 

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  1. The caller pretends they're doing business with your office now or have in the past.
  2. Callers use high-pressure sales pitch words such as: Urgent! Act now! No delays! Only available for a limited time! This is a scare tactic to force the customer into taking immediate action.
  3. The caller insists on cash or in-person payment. 
  4. The caller will not provide a business reference, address, contact phone number or email that they can be reached at.
  5. The caller will ask for the Make/Model/Serial number of your machines over the phone (Your current vendor should already have the equipment list. If the caller is asking for a list of equipment red flag they are fishing for information). 
  6. The caller will not provide an actual dollar amount or a written quote.
  7. The company name that they use will sound like your current supplier.
  8. The caller will claim they can provide free gifts/toners if a decision is made immediately.  

What to do if you suspect a you have been contacted by a “Toner Pirate”:

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  • Ask the caller for an account number; only you and your vendor/supplier should know that account number. 
  • If you are unsure, just hang up and call your supplier directly to confirm the situation. 

I’ve been plundered by a “Toner Pirate”. What now? 

If your organization has been hit by a “toner pirate”, don’t panic! There are safeguards set by the Federal Trade Commission that protects businesses from “toner pirates”. 

Always Remember: 

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  • Toner pirates cannot legally collect payment from you. If you do receive supplies that your organization did not authorize, treat it as a gift or just return it to sender. However, our recommendation is that those toners are better left unused as they are often of low quality and can damage your machines. 
  • If there is a suspicious invoice, call your vendor immediately and investigate it. Legitimate vendors are always willing to explain invoices and clear up any concerns about outstanding balances. 
  • Report toner pirates to the proper authorities, including: 

Let’s work together and send these pirates to Davey Jones’ Locker!


Categories: Security, MPS, Managed IT Services

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