Hocus Pocus – Keep Your Credit Profits in Focus

By Robbie Burch

All the little creepy crawlers come out at midnight to scheme, plot, and plan how to con, deceive, and steal Printer’s profits. Those who are delusional to this potential risk, thinking they can profit anyway, end up suffering the consequences of the illusion …Have you ever been Houdini’d?

Houdini was responsible for making escapology a recognized entertainment. He built his career on demonstrating the ability to escape from a huge variety of restraints and difficult situations. Fortunately for printers, most customers are not trying to escape the responsibility of payment, and for those bad debtors that do try to “Houdini” you there are ways to keep the level of restraint so difficult that you minimize your chances of becoming just another sucker who fell for the trick.



According to the International Association of Escape Artists, there are three types of escape techniques.

“HIDDEN” is a style of escape performance that involves much of the performance taking place behind some form of screen or inside a cabinet in order to protect the secrets of the performer. A good credit policy ensures that the printer can take away this “prop”. Too often, potential customers will provide trade references and bank information without giving a signed credit application authorizing the disclosure of trade information and financial data that is necessary when a credit lender is assessing the risk/reward potentials —- Bad guys know this trick as well and will provide information that enticingly looks good until the anticipated profits dissipate like a puff of smoke.

“FULL VIEW”, also known as ‘sleight of hand’, is where the Illusionist creates interest elsewhere diverting attention away from the ‘truth’. There have been plenty of cases where delinquent accounts were turned over to PICB for collections when the debtor company was operating using a ‘non-disclosed’ mail drop, or failed to have its proper registration or licenses required by the state where it existed, or had been dissolved. The facts were in plain sight but were ignored! The Printer had been deceived into believing tales of promised ‘money’, or ‘future business’, or some other devious plan of “illusions“ and having failed to see the ‘trick’ watched as his hard earned money mysteriously reappeared in the ‘Illusionists’ pockets.


    Corporations dissolved by the state for not filing annual reports may either be cash poor and unable to afford the nominal filing fee, it may owe back taxes and prohibited to file until such taxes are paid, or the company could just be poorly run. No matter the why, the outcome to granting credit under these circumstances will make your cash flow an illusion.
    Customers who intentionally disguise their true address by claiming their ‘box number’ is a ‘suite number’ generally do so with the singular intent of avoiding debt. If you fall for this trick, chances are your money will disappear as quickly as you can say abracadabra!
    Just like the intentionally disguised address, today’s technology makes it easy to hide behind a cell phone or a ‘VOIP’ line. If your customer does not have a real phone listed to the company you should assume their promise to pay timely is an ‘illusion’—Remember, if your customer uses a disposable phone as the business phone, your profits can be disposable as well.

“ESCAPE OR DIE” is the third and final type of performance. This is where the illusionist will either escape or die by drowning, suffocation, or falling. PICB has handled many cases where a Printer provided payment terms to businesses even though they were newly formed start-ups, facing lawsuits, had unpaid tax liens, and an usually high number of UCC (secured debt) filings….They had nothing to lose but the Printer’s money!



  • Have a fully disclosed credit policy
  • Make sure all employees understand and adhere to the rules
  • Customers must sign all credit agreements
  • Exceptions are YOUR choice, not a customer’s right
  • ALL customers, even ‘cash’ customers, need to provide their company details
  • Verify Trade and Bank references
  • Always ask for the Federal Tax ID # (this will help with research and authorization)
  • Verify the company’s corporate status and how long it has been in business
  • Ensure the address is a physical location and the phone number is not a cell phone
  • Research lawsuits, tax liens, and UCC filings before a line of credit is extended



YOU CHECK IT – PICB’s web-portal provides links to government websites that provide ‘anti-trick’ details such as corporate registrations, licensing records, property records, civil action history, + much more,

RISKEE BUSINESS – See if your existing or potential customer has already been exposed as an ‘illusionist’ —- PIA Members and PICB clients have unlimited free access to search PICB’s extensive database of collection cases.

WE CHECK IT – When you don’t have time to do proper due diligence on your potential or existing customer, PICB’s, Check It Company div. has dedicated staff who will do the research for you. No stale or regurgitated reports here! All reports are researched in real time, using public records provided by the State, City, County, or Federal government.

For help, contact any PICB staff member at