>> This is a sidebar article to the article, “Tips for Avoiding Online & Phone-Order Scams.”
- 1. The billing address is different from the shipping address. Most fraudulent orders request a different shipping address, so this type of order deserves a little closer look.
- 2. The phone number is invalid or does not match the name of the person calling. My favorite way to check this is the free service at www.usphonebook.com. Simply type in the phone number, and it will show you the name to whom the number belongs.
- 3. The address does not match the person ordering. Try www.whitepages.com, a free service that has both phone-number and reverse-address lookup. For a small monthly fee, you can get detailed information including cell numbers.
- 4. If the order is for a pond pump, skimmer or other larger item going to an apartment number, there is a 99.9% chance it is a bogus order. We no longer will ship large pond equipment to apartment numbers.
- 5. If you suddenly start getting repeat orders for a pump or piece of equipment, be sure to look very closely at those orders.
- 6. Consider the tone and cadence of the speaker. We have many customers for whom English is not their native language, but they should be able to provide their contact information without hesitation. Scammers often sound like they are reading a script for the first time off a piece of paper — because often times, they are.
- 7. Hastily made orders for large or expensive items are a typical sign of fraud. Things that can be easily resold are the primary targets. A $600 pump or skimmer is more likely to be fraudulent than a $2,000 pond kit. If two of these target items are ordered without explanation, double your vigilance.
- 8. Scammers never ask for a discount, but they will often ask to arrange their own shipping, so the order cannot be stopped once it is shipped.
- 9. Scammers never ask questions about the product they are ordering. They want to avoid conversation about the item, because they often don’t know what it is. Installers may order exactly what they need when calling, but it is extremely rare that a consumer will order anything by phone without asking multiple questions about it. The best advice is to put in a little extra effort and ask about their project. It may result in more time on the phone, but it can help weed out fraud.
- 10. Use your “Spidey Sense.” If you get a feeling that something is wrong, then it probably is.