Toner scams: What they are and how to protect yourself

Pirates these days don’t use words like “ahoy,” avast” and “matey.” They may not clunk around the decks of wooden tall ships on peg legs, wear eye patches, recite the pirate code or host colorful, talking, feathered creatures on their shoulders. But they are just as real today as they were centuries ago.

They’re just different.

One particular brand of pirate, rather than working dock lines of an old frigate works the lines of phones. While this kind does not seek gold, silver and jewels in chests, these pirates do seek to gain wealth, but at your and your organization’s expense.

These pirates gain their riches through phone-based toner scams.

How toner-based scams work

Here’s how these toner pirates work, they typically use the three ARRRrrrrs with variables thrown in, of course.

Step 1: Recon (Reconnaissance) 

Before calling target organizations, they do a bit of scouting, doing some online research of organization, collecting names of key staff members and getting contact information. They may even call the target businesses, just to gather intel on your technology, the copier or printer manufacture and on who are their service providers. 

Step 2: Razzle-dazzle (Deception)

Then armed with the information, they call your business claiming to be from your copier manufacturer (Ricoh, Canon, Sharp, Kyocera, or the like) or from your local office supply or technology company and may even drop a few of the names of your fellow staff or a superior. 

Step 3: Raid (Execution)

If they didn’t do their reconnaissance before the call, they may ask about your equipment or toner, but typically they then tell you about some impending toner price increase, encouraging you to buy their toner now while it’s still cheap. The toner though is of inferior quality and of an exorbitantly high price.

They may even drop a name of a superior staff member, saying something like “I spoke with John Benbow and he said to call you to get the order put through” or such.

So how do they plunder your organization? Well, if you fall for the scam, you’ll get cheap toner that at best won’t produce quality documents, but at worst, you can’t use at all — and you will have paid an arm and leg for it, in a manner of speaking.

Image of toner pirate

A word to the wise

If you are a client of ours, RK Black will never call you to sell you toner as most of our service contracts include toner as part of the “cost per click” charge. Under that contract, our technicians will deliver and install the toner as it is needed, making it completely unnecessary to call you.

So if someone calls claiming to be RK Black or to service RK Black equipment trying to sell you toner, you should see a red flag — or in this case the "Jolly Roger" (the black-skull-and-crossbones flag associated with piracy). The caller is not us and is a pirate. 

Don’t fall victim to toner pirates

Help protect yourself and your organization from toner scammers by taking the following three actions:

  • Educate your office about these scams so that your co-workers will recognize them when they see them. 

  • If you get such a toner scam call, ask the caller for a phone number by which to call them back. This typically results in rudeness or the quick click of the phone other end being hung up (also rude).

  • If you receive toner to your office and you aren’t familiar with it or the company sending it, don’t pay for it. Instead, call the company and tell them to pick it up. Don’t be afraid to reach out to the Better Business Bureau and the Federal Trade Commission for further help.

Thank you for your time and for your help in preventing toner fraud.

About R.K. Black, Inc.

R.K. Black, Inc. is an Oklahoma City-based, family-owned leading provider of office technology solutions to small and medium-sized businesses in Oklahoma and Kansas. We specialize in everything business technology from copier, fax, printer and scanner technology to document management, onsite paper shredding services, VoIP phone systems and managed IT support to video surveillance solutions.

If you want to learn more about us, feel free to explore the website, read our other blogs or click the button below to be contacted by one of our reps and tell you! Also, be sure to keep watching our social media channels on Facebook and Twitter for more business tips from our blog.