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Schemes, Scams and Unethical Practices

 

 

 

 

University of Maryland departments are often targets of unscrupulous companies or individuals who canvass phone numbers and monitor companies' Internet buying practices. They hope to find victims who will unwittingly acknowledge their attempts to sell bogus, damaged, or discontinued products at exorbitant prices. The most common commodities are advertising, copier toner, printer cartridges, and chemicals (typically cleaning chemicals). We have titled these "supplier scams". Following are some guidelines to protect you from being scammed, ways to identify a scam, commonly used sales pitches, what to do if you suspect a scam, and links to Better Business Bureau and other informative websites.

 

Guidelines To Protect You From Being Scammed:

  1. Allow only designated department personnel to place orders
  2. Never give your purchasing card number over the phone or in email unless you initiate the call/email
  3. Don't give any information about your office equipment over the telephone or via e-mail to unfamiliar suppliers
  4. Don't respond to unsolicited phone calls or e-mails from suppliers you don't know
  5. Refuse all items that you have not ordered
  6. Do not authorize payment for transactions unless you are sure they are legitimate

 

 

Ways to Identify a Scam:

 

If a telephone or e-mail solicitor contacts you offering a "special sale," it could be a supplier scam. If an unknown solicitor calls to ask for your shipping address, it could be a supplier scam. If you receive goods that were not ordered, it could be a supplier scam.

If the price is too good to be true, it probably is. Suppliers involved in scams assume that you don't compare prices or check your invoices. In a recent incident, a scam supplier attempted to sell a department copier toner valued at $25 for over $600 with shipping and handling costs. Don't fall for unreasonable discounts, as there are usually hidden costs. In addition, know that the majority of our copier maintenance agreements include the cost of toner. Contact the Department of Procurement and Strategic Sourcing at (301) 405-5813 if you are unsure if toner is included in your contract. Here are some typical techniques used in telephone scams:

 

    1. Scammers typically speak very fast to catch you off guard
    2. They often don’t tell you that they are selling something, just that they are going to save you money
    3. Scammers won't give their full names or provide telephone numbers
    4. The company's name is similar to your normal supplier's name
    5. They won't send you a quotation or anything in writing
    6. Scammers ask for your Social Security number or credit card number so you can qualify, or to identify your purchase

 

 

Commonly Used Sales Pitches Of Scammers:

 

"We need your address so we can ship the items you ordered."

"We're raising prices and have several cartons at the old price."

"We're selling discontinued items at close-out prices."

"We have free items or gifts for ordering."

"You must order today to take advantage of the price."

"The University President referred me to you."

"The price increase has just been announced but if you order now, you can avoid it."

"Our company’s anniversary gift to our customers is ready to ship to you. What is your size, or what color do you want?"

 

 

What To Do If You Suspect A Scam:

 

 

Links to Better Business Bureau Articles:

Phony Invoice Schemes http://www.bbb.org/library/ba-inv.asp

Office Supply Schemes & Paper Pirates http://www.bbb.org/library/ossapp.asp

Schemes Against Business http://www.bbb.org/library/ba-scheme.asp

 

Other interesting web sites:

Hoaxes http://www.nonprofit.net/hoax/default.htm

National Fraud Information Center www.fraud.org

 

Scams Against Businesses:

http://www.fraud.org/scamsagainstbusinesses/

Consumer Protection http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/consumer.shtm

 

 

 
     

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