FTC Gets Justice for Small Businesses Scammed by Office Supply Scheme

The FTC recently charged a New York-based office supply company for scamming small businesses and nonprofit organizations throughout the United States and Canada.

The supply company would contact the businesses offering a “free sample” and would then bill the business later, even if the business had originally denied the sample. The invoices would include the name of an employee of the business who was solicited. Believing that an employee has ordered the product, this lead more recipients to pay without questioning the invoice further .

Following the initial shipment, the company would send increasingly larger quantities of products that resulted in higher invoices. Those who complained were told that it was part of their initial order and that they do not accept returns due to the products being chemicals. Numerous businesses paid their invoices in the hopes that the supply company would cease contact.

Before placing orders or paying invoices, take the following precautions:

  • Never place a phone order unless there is no doubt that a firm is reputable, such as company with which you already have an established relationship.
  • Get everything in writing and check out the company at northalabama.bbb.org.
  • Check your records to confirm claims of previous business dealings with a company or seller.
  • Establish effective internal controls for the payment of invoices.
  • Channel all bills through one department.
  • Have employees fill out pre-numbered purchase orders for every order placed.
  • Check all invoices against purchase orders and against goods or services received.
  • Verify all invoices with the person who gave written or verbal authorization.
  • Clear all invoices with the appropriate financial staff.
  • In a dispute, if the invoicing company says it has a tape recording of an order, insist on hearing it.

Source: BBB of North Alabama and the Federal Trade Commission

For the original article, visit FTC Charges Office Supply Scheme with Bilking Millions of Dollars from Small Businesses for ‘Free’ Samples of Cleaning Products 1. Source: United States Federal Trade Commission, www.ftc.gov – not subject to copyright protection. 17 U.S.C. 403.

To report a scam, go to the BBB Scam Tracker. To find trustworthy businesses, go to https://www.bbb.org/northern-alabama/