Saturday, December 15, 2012

Protecting Your Business Against Office Supply Scams

Businesses are being bilked out of millions of dollars through office supply scams.  The typical office scam may include a phony invoice or a phone call from someone pretending to be your regular office supplier.

BBB and the FTC offer 5 rules for protecting your business against a scam like this:

1. Know and insist on your rights. If you receive merchandise you didn't order, you may keep it as a gift according to the FTC.  According to a federal law commonly referred to as the "Unordered Merchandise Law," and principles established in FTC enforcement cases, it is illegal for the seller to send you bills or dunning notices for unordered merchandise and ask you to return it, even if the seller offers to pay the shipping expenses.

2. Don't pay any bills that don’t match your documentation. When the supplies arrive, the receiving employee should check to see that it matches the shipper's bill of lading.

3. Document orders. For each order, an employee should issue to the supplier a written purchase order on a standard multiple-copy form with an authorized signature and a purchase order number.

4. Train your employees. If your employees are not familiar with certain callers, advise them to say something like, "I am not authorized to order anything. You will have to speak to the person in charge of ordering supplies and get a purchase order."

5. Do not pay for or return unordered merchandise.  If you are certain that you didn't order the merchandise the seller has shipped, do not pay for or return the merchandise.

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