Current Issue
Published on September 11, 2006

Beware the scammers...again

They're back. Yep, the scammers who plagued U.S. tire dealerships about a year and a half ago with phony orders for tires have resurfaced-not that they likely ever went away.

Two tire dealers recently alerted us to the scam's re-emergence, saying they were solicited for tires by persons they suspected were looking to make a quick buck from unaware dealerships.

And they were right. They were the targets of would-be tire scams.

Fortunately, both dealers had heard about previous efforts to con retailers and knew to question the actions of these so-called customers.

Sensing something wasn't right when the orders came in over the phone from third-party operators, they questioned them. In doing so, they exposed these sales for what they really were-bogus-and neither dealership got taken for a costly ride.

The key point here is that these dealers knew enough to be on the look out for orders that seemed too good to be true, especially from customers they didn't know.

It's a lesson other dealers should follow and share with all their employees.

Tire scams can happen in any number of ways. They usually originate from overseas, but not always, so dealers must be wary of any order that appears suspicious, even one seeming to come from a local customer.

Often the scammer wants to purchase some tires, asks for them to be shipped to an address either in this country or overseas, and seeks to pay with a credit card.

Many times, the call comes through a third party operator who says he or she has a customer on the line who can speak only through a relay service.

What happens is that the bogus order is usually paid with a stolen credit card. Only after the tires are shipped does the dealer find he's not getting paid.

To avoid becoming a victim of a phony purchase scheme, the Federal Trade Commission offers some sound advice.

First, be careful about accepting credit card orders over the phone or by e-mail, especially from overseas. That's a big red flag.

Ask for a faxed copy of the credit card or a photocopy of the credit card bill, using an incentive like a few dollars off the price of the order in exchange for this.

Establish a holdover policy for large credit card orders in case the card is stolen.

And keep an encrypted list of ``good customers'' who have done business with the dealership in the past.

Most importantly, dealers should rely on their sixth sense and not be afraid to question any order that appears suspicious.

That's what the two dealers hit by recent tire scams did. By being proactive, it kept them from becoming victims.


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