Copy Machine Call: Phone Scam Overview

Copy machine and office supply scams are common

A small business is any company having fewer than 500 employees, currently 50% of the working population in the United States works for a small business. A recent study by the United States government found that some of the most common jobs Americans have take place in an office setting.

Nearly three million Americans work as a general office clerk, over two million work as customer service representatives, and over two million work as secretaries and admin (non-legal or medical). These three occupations are in the top ten most common forms of employment in the country.

As you know, phone scammers tend to never miss a beat and are constantly finding new ways to con their victims. Taking advantage of the fact that many people work in small business office settings, they have created scams that specifically target small business offices.

If you've ever worked in an office you know that there is almost always a copy machine that routinely breaks down. Whether it's a paper jam or some unknown error it's a good chance that it occasionally will be out of order. Some of the repair issues that a copier has will have to be fixed by a professional that is usually sent out by the company from which the office purchased the copier. 

Most office workers will give out information to the copier repair professionals that they would never give to a stranger off of the street, which is good news for scammers.  The copy machine phone scam has become very common and here is how it works.

How the Scam Works

Getting calls from various office supply sales representatives is common for people who work in an office. This particular phone scam will originate with a call from a supply company asking about the copier in your office. If the scammer is using caller ID spoofing, it may appear that the call is coming from a reputable business.

The caller will ask things like what the make and model the copier is. Once you give them this information, they will claim they are going to send a free, new manual for the machine. In most instances, the scammers won't send anything for free, but will send out unordered merchandise with a hefty bill attached. They will then demand that you pay the bill or face the consequences.

These scam calls don't always involve copy machines, sometimes the call seem like an ordinary office supply pitch. However, they will lie about the prices of their products and they will always send unordered products and demand payment.

Avoiding the Copier Call and Other Office Phone Scams

Make sure that whoever is in charge of purchasing office supplies, or maintaining the copy machine knows about the potential for these types of phone scams. If you are a small business owner or a charity foundation you are most at risk for these types of phone scams.

Educate your employees and coworkers on how to react in a situation where an office supply representative calls them. Make sure that they ask specific questions and do not give sensitive payment information over the phone.

Generally, an office will have a service contract with a particular company for their supplies and the maintenance of their copiers and fax machines. Companies that call unsolicited to offer their products or repair services should be avoided. 

If the scammer insists on sending you a free manual or gift, you need to tell them that you are not interested and hang up. Whenever you get an unsolicited call from someone offering something for free, you need to immediately be suspicious.

How to Report This Scam

If you feel like you have been contacted by a copy machine scammer, report them to the Federal Trade Commission. At the end of 2015, the FTC stopped Liberty Supply Co. (aka Omni Services) from their fraudulent practices. The company allegedly stole millions from small businesses and charities in an office supply scam.

If you're unsure about whether or not you've been targeted by an office supply scam, you can research the phone number that called you in a reverse phone lookup directory, like CallerSmart's. Chances are that if a scammer is trying to target people, you will not be the only one and there will be other experiences like yours documented online.