By Jennifer Baldwin, AVB and Alan Wolf, YSN
The worst of the COVID crisis may be over, but BrandSource members remind us that the increase in fraudulent purchases that some had witnessed during the pandemic has yet to subside.
Speaking from first-hand experience, California members Mark Pardini, principal of Pardini Appliance & Mattress, and Mike Heintz, president of University Electric, cited the following customer red flags that should get your “spidey sense” a-tingling. While the purchase may prove legitimate, they nonetheless advise caution when presented with any of these scenarios, as it takes an extra $100,000 in sales to recover from a $3,000 to $5,000 loss, Pardini noted.
Phone Sales. Criminals using stolen credit cards prefer to make their purchases over the phone — and have others pick up the order — to avoid presenting the card and their ID. Also, be wary of multiple credit card declines and bank-issued “pre-authorization numbers” that show “pending approval.”
Email Sales. Beware of requests for seemingly random products; a “Dear Sir of Madam” salutation; and spelling errors and bad punctuation.
Questionable Addresses. Heintz and Pardini point out that criminals have variously requested delivery to an unoccupied house, a parking lot, out-of-state locations, or provide no address at all.
Rental Trucks. Rented trucks, trailers and vans can’t be tracked, Pardini argues, and both members describe curbside U-Haul pickups as definite red flags.
“Utility Company” Calls. Be on guard against urgent calls from your utility company, warning of an imminent power shutoff due to an unpaid bill. Call your utility to confirm.
Last-Minute Orders: Other signs of a con include big orders placed near closing time or at the end of the week when you are at your busiest, as well as “need-it-tomorrow” purchases of random in-stock merchandise.
Pardini and Heintz urge members to report any fraud attempts to their Region Managers, who can quickly alert fellow dealers to the scam via text or email. In addition, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) offers a host of scam-prevention videos here, and can provide fraud-alert flyers for use by store employees.
BrandSource, a unit of YSN publisher AVB Inc., is a nationwide buying group for independent appliance, furniture, mattress and CE dealers.