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October 2009

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October 02, 2009

NYU targeted by "Toner Phoner" scam

There are reports of phone scammers targeting NYU, wherein a bogus "copy toner" supply company claims that they need to send the department an invoice for unpaid charges. The caller may ask the model of the department's copier so that they can 'update their records.' Moreover, their phone numbers come in as private.

This phone scam is particularly disconcerting because the caller often refers to other legitimate employees in the same department, to bolster the validity of the ruse. Oftentimes, the scammer is preying on reaching a temp, or someone new who will give up a name to the scammer so they can send an invoice or, even better, agree to a shipment. After the acceptance of one invoice, the scammer may begin to send more bogus invoices, some stamped "past due". They may even send a fake collection agency after your department, to convince them to pay.

There are few key tips you can follow to defend against these types of phone scams:

  • Tell the scammer that you will contact them back at your known supplier's email address or phone number: This is also a strong deterrent for the scammer, since calling the original supplier will quickly expose the scam. Do not provide the phone number, name of the supplier, or the email address over the phone if asked.
  • Ask questions: Phone scammers will often try to cajole victims into simply accepting an invoice without question. However, research has shown that the more questions you ask, the more likely the scammer is to end the phone call and move on. The best questions are usually the ones only your department and your suppliers would know.
  • If you're not expecting anything, be cautious: If your department is not expecting a phone call or an email regarding a particular invoice or transaction, proceed cautiously. Contact your known suppliers or trusted parties and verify whether or not they attempted to contact your department.

Due to changes in the nature of the telecommunications industry, anonymous phone scams are easier than every to execute and are not unique to NYU. Be on the alert for suspicious phone calls of all types.

You can find out more about this "Toner Phoner Scam" here:

InfoWorld.com | The toner phoner scam

If you have received or are the victim of one of these types of phone scams, contact the Office of Public Safety immediately at (212) 998-2222.