The State University of New York at Potsdam is not exempt as a target of unscrupulous companies or individuals that canvass phone numbers and monitor 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, office supplies, printer cartridges and chemicals but scams can involve any commodity or service that exists. Fortunately, there are ways to protect yourself and the College from being scammed:
- Allow only designated department personnel to place orders.
- Never give your purchasing card number over the phone or in email unless you have initiated the call/email.
- Don't give information about your office equipment over the telephone or via email to unfamiliar suppliers.
- Don't respond to unsolicited phone calls or emails from suppliers you don't know.
- Refuse all items that you have not ordered.
- Do not authorize payment for transactions unless you are sure they are legitimate.
Most scams use common techniques to trap their victims. 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.
Here are some typical techniques used in telephone scams:
- Scammers typically speak very fast to catch you off guard.
- They often don't tell you that they are selling something, just that they are going to save you money.
- Scammers won't give their full names or provide telephone numbers.
- The company's name is similar to your supplier's name.
- They won't send you a quotation or anything in writing.
- Scammers ask for your Social Security number or credit card number so you can qualify or to identify your purchase.
- Scammers can only offer the savings if you purchase on-the-spot.
- The "exceptional offer" will expire in a very short time period - sometimes within hours or minutes.
Some commonly used sales pitches of scammers are as follows:
- "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?"
If you suspect you have been contacted by a supplier scam, advise the caller that it would be best to let the Purchasing & Payables Office speak to them. In most cases, the caller will hang up before you can even dial the number to transfer them.
There are numerous articles and resources available through the Better Business Bureau to further educate consumers regarding scams, hoaxes, schemes and legends. Below are other interesting web sites:
- Hoaxes: www.nonprofit.net/hoax/default.htm
- Scams Against Businesses: www.fraud.org/scamsagainstbusinesses/
- Consumer Protection: www.ftc.gov/ftc/consumer.htm
- Scams, Urban Legends, Etc: www.truthorfiction.com/
Credit Card Marketing - SUNY Potsdam prohibits the advertising, marketing, or merchandising or credit cards on campus to students, unless expressly authorized and registered by the Chief Student Affairs Officer or designee. Registrants will be limited to specified dates and areas and are prohibited from offering gifts to a student in exchange for completing a credit card application.