Don't Buy It

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Office-supply scams are still big business.

Small businesses are being bilked out of millions of dollars each year by bogusoffice-supply firms. To protect yourself, know your rights. You don't have topay for supplies or services you didn't order, even if you use them. Assigndesignated buyers, keep a record of purchases, and always check documentation.Finally, train your staff to be aware of potential scams and to avoid becomingvictims. The three most popular scams to look out for:

* The phony invoice, which involves a bogus firm billing your businessinflated prices for unordered merchandise.

* The pretender, in which the scam artist pretends to be a supplier youuse regularly or have used before.

* The gift horse, where the scammer tricks an employee into accepting agift, which is followed by unordered merchandise and an invoice showing theemployee's name.

For more information on office-supply scams, contact the Federal TradeCommission at (202) FTC-HELP or visit the commission's Web site athttp://www.ftc.org

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