Burnsville, Minnesota – August 20, 2015 –Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota (BBB) is warning businesses in Minnesota, North Dakota and particularly the St. Cloud area to be on the alert for what appear to be bills for computer support faxed from an Oklahoma firm using the name CPU Service, Inc. The company has an F rating with BBB of Central Oklahoma. A business organization in the St. Cloud area received the questionable fax earlier this week and reported it to BBB.
According to BBB of St. Louis, which issued an alert on this company earlier this year, these faxes are actually advertising solicitations, offering 12 months of online computer support and consulting. But businesses in the Missouri area that received the faxes reported they could easily be confused with invoices asking for payment. Under Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rules and the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, it is illegal to fax unsolicited advertisements under certain circumstances.
CPU Service Inc. uses a postal box in Oklahoma City. The faxes show an email and a fax number, but no phone number. Attempts by BBB of Central Oklahoma to reach the company have been unsuccessful. That BBB now reports the entity is not at the location listed on faxes businesses nationwide – and recently in the St. Cloud area – have been receiving.
“There are many things about this ‘offer’ that don’t add up,” says Dana Badgerow, president and CEO of BBB of Minnesota and North Dakota. “The fact the business isn’t even at their listed address is simply the shady icing on this suspect cake.”
The fax received by the St. Cloud business organization refers to a “preorder” payment of $190. Faxes business in the Missouri area received sought payments between $390 and $590. Instructions on the fax request that checks or credit card payments be sent to the company via mail or fax. A disclaimer at the bottom of the fax notes: “This is a proposal for the order of goods or services, or both, and this is not a bill, invoice, or statement of account due. You are under no obligation to make any payments on account of this offer unless you accept this offer. Your organization and our company have in the past not done business together.”
BBB offers the following tips on avoiding potential business-to-business schemes:
- Deal only with reputable firms. Do your research at bbb.org.
- If you receive what appears to be a bill or invoice in the mail, email or via a fax, read all information carefully to determine whether it is a request for payment. Solicitations can sometimes appear to be bills.
· Designate certain employees as buyers. For each order, the designated buyer should issue a purchase order to the supplier that has an authorized signature and a purchase order number. The buyer also should send a copy of every purchase order to the accounts payable department, and keep blank order forms secure.
· Advise employees who are not authorized to order supplies and services to say, “I’m not authorized to place orders. If you want to sell us something, you must speak to ________ and get a purchase order.” Develop some standard procedures as far as who orders and receives merchandise.
· If you receive merchandise, the receiving employee should verify that the merchandise matches the shipper’s bill of lading and your purchase order. Don’t pay any supplier unless the invoice has the correct purchase order number, and the information on the invoice matches the purchase order.
· If you receive bills for goods or services you didn’t order, don’t pay. Treat any unordered merchandise you receive as a gift. It’s illegal for a seller to send you bills or dunning notices for merchandise you didn’t order or ask you to send back the merchandise — even if the seller offers to pay the shipping costs.