Augsburg targeted by ‘Toner Phoners’


If you work in an office with a printer on campus, have you gotten a call from someone very concerned about your printer toner needs? Has the person on the other end promised discount toner with tall tales about a toner surplus or a free trial? Have they even pretended to be Marco, Augsburg’s printer provider?

Don’t be fooled! You have encountered a “toner phoner.” These are scammers who want to sell overpriced toner to unsuspecting victims, and you should not believe their lies.

Over the past month, toner phoners have been calling campus and asking for information about the printers in whatever office they called. They enquired about the model and number of the printers. Then they offer supposedly cheaper toner. However, they are not a trustworthy source.

For one thing, no one who works at Augsburg should be directly ordering toner. It is not the responsibility of any one desk worker to call up Marco in order to restock toner. Instead, it should all come through the copy center (x1054). If a printer on campus is low, desk workers should just alert the copy center and they will deal with it — for a more reasonable price. According to Snopes, the leading internet reference source and fact-checking site, the toner phoner scam has been going on since the ‘70s. The conclusion of the scam is a delivery of bad-quality paper and a huge bill — between $100 and $1,000, Snopes says. The Federal Trade Commission has even pursued some toner phoner fraud cases.

The scam can also occur without the calls. A large amount of low-quality paper shows up with a bill, and office workers assume it must have been ordered, so they pay it.

The scam is a pretty big deal, but luckily it has an easy fix: do not listen to the phoners! Knowing that you should not be doing business directly with printer companies, either hang up or offer to transfer them and they will usually hang up after that.

Toner phoners have been targeting the library, but other departments are not immune.

This article first appeared in the Friday, October 13, 2017, Edition of The Echo.