Consumer Fraud Prevention Tips
TRUST & GREED ARE YOUR BIGGEST VULNERABILITIES.
DON'T BE A FRAUD VICTIM
- Never pay for anything in advance where requested to do so, never for services nor for products sight unseen. If you do, use your credit card because you may get your money back where you have been scammed and many scammers do not have credit card accounts. Credit Card Companies can do a chargeback to the Merchant who processed the charge to your card if it is a fraudulent scam.
- Promises of riches, and guarantees to instantly double or triple your money are scams.
- Never give out financial or personal information about yourself to anyone via the telephone, email or any other method of communication where you don't know with whom you are dealing.
- Never donate to an alleged charity in response to a telephone call; it is impossible to verify the legitimacy of the so-called charity over the telephone. Ask the organization to mail an information package and remember to always check whether or not a charity is registered by calling the Canada Revenue Agency at 1-800-267-2384 or checking its website at www.cra-arc.gc.ca.
- Nigerian letter scams have resulted in the loss of millions of hard- earned dollars around the world and particularly in North America. If you receive a letter or an email from Nigeria requesting your assistance to move or hide millions of dollars, do not respond; THIS IS A SCAM. Remember trust & greed?
Sample of a Nigerian letter scam.
- There are Fraud Artists who scan the Classified Ads for vehicles etc. in what is known as the Nigerian Overpayment Scam. They call up the Seller and advise them that they are interested in purchasing the vehicle but only have a Bank Draft or Cashier's Cheque/Check for considerably more that the asking price of the vehicle. They convince the Seller to deposit the cheque/check into his/her account and send the balance to the buyer. Weeks later the cheque/check is returned by the bank as Counterfeit. The Seller has given the vehicle away and a gift of cash to the Buyer. Never accept a bank draft, cashier's cheque/check or certified cheque/check when the amount is greater than the asking price and you are requested to refund the balance. Verify the identity of the Buyer; obtain a Driver's License and/or other photo ID, and confirm telephone number and address, and call the payor of the cheque/check (usually a business) to determine the actual cheque/check details, (the name of the payee, for instance) because in this scam the payee has been altered.
- It is a scam if you receive a letter from a Loan Company advising you that the company can fix your bad credit and help you obtain a loan, and particularly so if they request an advance fee for their services, in what's known as the Advance Fee Loan Scam. The only way to improve your credit rating is to pay off your bad debts or wait seven years without incurring any more bad debts to have your record cleared.
- Never invest in anything about which you know nothing. A website can be created as a false storefront. Conduct your due diligence by making sure that you are dealing with a real person and a legitimate business. Check out the company with the Better Business Bureau, check if the individual and company is registered and/or licensed with the appropriate Provincial or State Securities Commission, ask for references and find out if the company has a business license. This is even more important if you are considering investing offshore which is very high-risk.
- Never allow an Individual who solicits you at the door to repair or do renovations to your home. If your home requires renovations obtain a referral from someone whom you know and trust. Check out the company with the Better Business Bureau. Roof repairs are probably one of the biggest scams with respect to home renovations.
- Contracts mean nothing to Fraud Artists; at best you have a civil matter if things go awry as it will likely be difficult to prove criminal intent. You must conduct your due diligence prior to signing a Contract and preferably you should have some legal or expert advice. And NEVER sign a blank contract.
- Every home should have a shredder; do NOT throw financial or personal documents (bank statements or income tax returns, for example) in the garbage but rather, ensure that they are shredded.
- Delete ALL unsolicited emails because unsolicited emails are bogus. Remember, neither financial institutions nor businesses like eBay will send you unsolicited emails asking you to supply your account or password information. When you receive one of these e-mails, DO NOT click on unsubscribe links... instead of removing you from their spam lists they confirm that you are receiving and reading their spam. Just silently ignore them and delete.
- Remove yourself from the mailing and telephone calling lists of members of the Canadian Marketing Association and the American Direct Marketing Association to help reduce the risks associated with anyone intercepting or stealing your mail. The Canadian Marketing Association website is www.the-cma.org and the American Direct Marketing Association website is www.the-dma.org.
For more Fraud Tips and information relating to various scams that are currently being used visit these web sites:
- Government of Canada: Consumer Information
- RCMP: Consumer Fraud
- CBC: Scams
- SafeFromScam.co.uk: Expert Advise to prevent Scam
- MortgageLoan.com: a comprehensive consumer guide to mortgage fraud
Note: There are many different scams that are being perpetrated by Fraud Artists all over the world. These Tips do not cover everything. The best policy is that if it doesn't sound right and seems too good to be true then it likely is. You've heard this a hundred times; remember it.