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Office supply scams

What is an office supply scam?

An office supply scam is a scam that involves you receiving and being charged for goods that you did not order. These scams often involve goods or services that you regularly order: paper, printing supplies, maintenance supplies or advertising. You might receive a phone call from someone claiming to be your ‘regular supplier’, telling you that the offer is a ‘special’ or available ‘for a limited time only’. If you agree to buy any of these supplies that are offered to you, they will often be overpriced and bad quality.

Warning signs

  • You receive an invoice for goods or services you did not order, addressed to an employee in your company.
  • You might receive a call from somebody claiming to be your regular supplier or an authorised supplier, who tells you that the goods are those you have ordered before.
  • One of your employees might be offered a free gift by someone you’ve never heard of, and the gift may arrive with other goods that your employee did not order.

Protect yourself from office supply scams

  • Use your common sense: the offer may be a scam.
  • Never give out or clarify any information about your business unless you know what the information will be used for.
  • Never agree to any business proposal on the phone: always ask for an offer in writing.
  • Try to avoid having a large number of people authorised to make orders or pay invoices.
  • Always check that goods or services were both ordered and delivered before paying an invoice.
  • Make sure the business billing you is the one you normally deal with.

As well as following these specific tips, find out how to protect yourself from all sorts of other scams.

Do your homework

If you have been approached about purchasing office supplies, or if you are interested in the products for sale, consider asking new suppliers to first send a free catalogue. Make sure you know who is selling you the supplies on offer, the total cost of the products or services they’re offering, any restrictions on getting or using them, and the seller’s refunds policy before you commit to any purchase whatsoever.

Be sure to check with the ACCC or your local fair trading agency—they can tell you if they have taken legal action against the person who has contacted you. Check out the ACCC brochure Scams: protect your business from them for more information and tips about common small business scams.


Never buy office supplies from a seller you don’t know and trust without fully considering what they are offering—the price, the quality of the products and any conditions attached to the sale. Don’t let tactics like bullying, negotiations for a lower price or charges for returned products affect your decision.

Report them

If you have received a fraudulent office supplies telemarketing call, or if you have sent money to pay for an order which you now realise is a scam, you can report it through the SCAMwatch website. You should also spread the word to your friends, family and colleagues to protect them.


What to do if you've been scammed; Scams & the law; Report a scam.

Similar scams:

Small businesses can be misled into paying for a directory listing or other advertisement that may not exist or was not authorised.

Unsolicited faxes offer great deals on products, entry into competitions or huge discounts, but the high costs of replying to the fax are buried in the fine print or not provided at all.

Scams that send you a fake renewal notice for your actual domain name, or a misleading invoice for a domain name that is very similar to your own.

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