Shakespeare’s Hamlet poised the famous question “To be or not to be” and he pondered his own existence. In today’s difficult business environment, we have heard too many stories of white collar theft and telephone fraud that strips good, solid, honest business people of both profit and serenity.
Remember the days when your phone training sessions could be as simple as asking your team to answer the phone by simply saying, “Thank you for calling ABC Business. This is Danielle – how may I help you?” Like the rotary phone and land lines, these days are gone and most people do not know how important it is to train your staff on answering the phone. Scammers are smart and know how to get you to commit to something that could cost you hundreds.
In the world of retail and restaurants, there is a popular scam that has been going on for years. Scammers know that many new and entry level or part-time employees answer the phone in retail and restaurant environments, so they prey on them. The unsuspecting hostess at a restaurant will receive a phone call from a translator for a hearing impaired person. They ask for large amounts of food to be delivered. Being a business in a slow economy, the business is intrigued by this large sale. Now keep in mind, the phone call is between the restaurateur and a translator who is reading emails from the actual “customer” who is “hearing impaired”. The conversation goes on, and the next thing you know a courier is needed to transport the food from the restaurant to the desired location. This courier has to be paid by credit card, or better yet, by a wire transfer ahead of time and asks that the restaurateur include this in the final bill. This would mean the restaurateur would need to pay for the courier…. and now the restaurateur is about to get SCAMMED. When the courier calls back to get a wire transfer or the credit card information, the restaurateur will actually be speaking with the scammer. They will pay for “courier” and never see their money again. And that is how the scammers steal your credit card identity and run up a huge bill!
Another popular scam is when a solicitor calls your hair salon and asks to VERIFY information for a shipment. A receptionist answers the phone and the person on the other end of the line asks for his/her name and to “verify” the address for a shipment of cash register tape OR ribbons OR maybe a toner cartridge for the copier. To the unaware, this all would seem quite legitimate. So – the receptionist usually gives the information freely! A week later, the salon receives a shipment of cash register tape or ribbons or toner with a bill for TRIPLE of what it should. If the salon doesn’t have solid command and control procedure, the invoice probably would simply flow into the payables stack and the salon owners will have purchased the world’s most expensive, and unusable, office supplies. This scam is difficult to get out of because the company making the call is legitimate; they are just doing BAD BUSINESS. The salon receptionist has been recorded via on-line phone tape recording and the case is iron clad that she ordered it. The salon owner can spend valuable time to get their money back, but it is a lengthy process. Most business owners end up just hanging their head and learning from their mistake. THAT is how the scammers make their money on this fraud.
These two examples are why it is imperative to TEACH everyone who answers the phone about scams…. to be aware of the potential for fraudulent activity. Here are some things you can talk about at your next shift meeting or discuss over your next staff lunch meeting:
When answering the phone -
1. Always be polite and courteous.
2. Always thank the person for calling.
3. Always have knowledge about the company you work for, what your policies are, who the vendors are with which you do business. Beware of new vendors or strange sounding calls.
4. NEVER “Verify” a shipment. If someone wants to “VERIFY” a shipment, refuse further information and pass the phone to a supervisor.
5. NEVER assume. If the call seems a little odd and you are unsure, ALWAYS pass the phone to a supervisor. Putting a scammer on hold while you get a supervisor pretty much ensures they will hang up. They know they have been busted!
We all work too hard for our money in these difficult times. Don’t let creative white collar thieves take your profits away by using your own people in an elaborate fraud of confusion. TRAIN YOUR PEOPLE TO BE YOUR LINE OF DEFENSE! If we all do this, maybe these practices will go the way of the dinosaur… but until then… REMAIN VIGILANT!