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Buyer Beware

These tips will help you avoid falling prey to office supply scam artists.

1. Know your rights. If you receive bills for goods and services you didn't order, don't pay. The law allows you to treat unordered goods and services as a gift. Double-check, however, to make sure than an honest mistake hasn't been made.

2. Review your credit card bills as soon as they arrive. Be on the lookout for charges for goods and services you haven't ordered or authorized. If you find an error on your bill, follow the instructions on your statement for filing a dispute.

3. Assign purchasing to designated staff. And document all your purchases.

4. Train your staff in how to respond to telemarketers. Advise employees who are not authorized to order goods and services to say, "I'm not authorized to place orders. If you want to offer or sell us something, you must speak to __________."

5. Buy from people you know and trust. Authorized employees should be skeptical of "cold" or unsolicited calls and feel comfortable saying "no" to high-pressured sales tactics.

6. Check out the organization with the attorney general or Better Business Bureau in your state or the state where the organization is located before you send any money for any product or service. This is not foolproof: There may be no record of complaints if an organization is too new or has changed its name.

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