Toner pirates make a living by tricking unsuspecting office staff into ordering or accepting unsolicited replacement toner at an inflated cost. This may be achieved through a variety of different means, and often involves the offer of a discounted or free product, or pressure tactics such as a claim that the price is about to increase to incentivize office managers to stock up now.

Toner pirates will work to gather information about your print equipment such as the make, model, and/or serial number to appear more legitimate, with a promise to send out something for free in exchange for the data. Most toner phone scams can be avoided if you know what to watch for, and we have a number of tips that can help you safeguard your business and help you retain control over your print environment.

How to Avoid Being Scammed by a Toner Pirate

In a busy office environment, it is important to remain vigilant against scammers attempting to solicit a response or payment for unsolicited toner. Among the most effective defense is ongoing training to help educate office staff and prevent a financial loss. Tips include:

  • Assign one employee the task of ordering and managing office supplies and refer all calls and invoices to that person.
  • Never accept a shipment for items that you did not order.
  • Do not provide details of your print equipment over the phone.
  • Ensure all staff members know to not purchase supplies during an unsolicited phone call.
  • Get to know your office supply contacts.
  • Partner with a Managed Print Services provider.
  • If you receive a call regarding toner replacement, have the vendor verify they are your provider by stating your account number and the date of your last purchase.
  • If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

What to Do If You Are the Victim of a Toner Pirate 

An unsolicited replacement toner has arrived, now what? If you realize you have been scammed, take the following steps to mitigate your damages:

  • Refuse the shipment if possible, but if you have already accepted it, do not use the toner.  It is likely of poor quality and may cause damage to your printers.
  • If you receive an invoice for items that you didn’t order, don’t pay it. Notify your billing department and if necessary, call the Better Business Bureau.