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Don't be duped by business paper scam

The Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota has been informed of a case of attempted fraud against a St. Cloud restaurant.

An employee of the restaurant received a phone call from someone claiming to be a vendor, asking if they needed to order more of the paper they take food orders on.

The employee said yes, and then the caller said they couldn't locate the account number for payment and asked the employee for the company's bank routing and account numbers - which were provided.

The caller then gave the employee the total cost of their order. When the employee mentioned that the amount seemed very low, they were told it was a holiday special

Fortunately, the employee became suspicious after the call and contacted their vendor, who informed them that they had no record of any order.

From there, the restaurant was able to quickly contact their bank and change their account and routing numbers.

The BBB urges all businesses to be on the alert for fraudulent phone calls such as this. Additionally, here are some tips to follow to avoid being scammed:

•Train your staff. Advise employees who are not authorized to order supplies and services to refer any such sales people to the purchasing department.

•Keep a list of regularly used vendors. This will help to protect your business against schemers who claim that your company previously used their services.

•The purchasing department should be instructed not to respond verbally to unsolicited phone offers for office supplies. Require that all sales pitches be made in writing.

•Do not deal with unknown sellers without first verifying the reliability and complaint history of the seller's business with the Better Business Bureau (

•Institute strict purchasing and accounting controls. Every purchase should be documented by issuing a purchase order to the supplier with an authorized signature and a purchase order number. The handling of invoices, etc. should be centralized and authorization closely checked.

•Remind employees who order supplies that there should be no reason a vendor you've had an account with previously should need any type of bank routing or account number, or even a business credit card number.

The mission of the Better Business Bureau is to promote, through self-regulation, the highest standards of business ethics and conduct, and to instill public confidence in responsible businesses through programs of education and action that inform, protect and assist the general public.

Contact the BBB at or (651) 699-1111, toll-free at 1-800-646-6222.