Top Ten SCAMS Economic Downturn Scams 1 Business Opportunities Tough economic times often bring out the bad guys. During a credit crunch, you may 3 Your good friend or family member may have invited you to attend a presentation turn to new sources to help with your involving an investment opportunity. You don’t know ﬁnances. While it may not be called a “loan” in the anything about the company, and are desperate to hear marketing, there are small business cash advances which that it is legit. These investments appear lucrative, but o er thousands of dollars for business ventures despite often are more hype than substance. The promoter your credit rating. These types of opportunities often convinces investors that they can be part owners of come with up-front fees, and excessive interest charges. investment portfolios if they enlist new recruits, maybe In some cases, it may even be attempts to gain promising commissions in cash and bullion. information for identity theft. Before you jump up and send in that processing fee or security deposit, be warned that this is likely a scam. You should never have to pay cash in advance for a loan. QUICK TIP: In reality, this is most likely a pyramid scheme. The new capital brought on by new investors is keeping this imaginary investment QUICK TIP: Never pay money to get money. If it is a aﬂoat. Get the facts. If you do go to an information legitimate loan or lender, the fee will be added to the session, collect business cards, promotional total amount owed on the loan as required by BC materials, and ask questions such as, who are the consumer protection laws. For information about principals of the company? When did the company disclosure requirements when you are applying for a get started? How much is the start-up cost? personal loan in BC, contact Business Practices and Gather as much information as possible, before Consumer Protection Authority (BPCPA) of BC toll agreeing to anything. To report misleading free at 1.888.564.9963 or visit www.bpcpa.ca. advertising and/or deceptive marketing practices contact the Competition Bureau at: www.competitionbureau.gc.ca or 1.800. 348.5358. Go to the BC Securities Commission’s Home Repair Rip-O s 2 www.investright.org website for information on how to select an advisor and what to look out for Home improvements may be on your agenda, when choosing to invest. but ﬁnding a contractor with reasonable costs and availability may be a challenge. During the spring thaw, unscrupulous and unqualiﬁed people often show up at homes with o ers to do everything from landscaping to rooﬁng. Some may o er to pave your driveway with leftover materials, or even remodel your Bogus Online Ads home for a low price. These ﬂy-by-night operators come into communities for a short time and do shoddy work that often results in having to be redone. 4 Online classiﬁeds can be an e ective way to hunt for shopping bargains and ﬁnd those hard-to-get concert tickets. While those QUICK TIP: Get the name and address of the com- classiﬁed websites o er free access to hundreds of pany the vendor claims to represent and check it with ads, beware that those listings are rarely vetted prior the Better Business Bureau and the city-licensing to posting. The seller may not be legitimate, so there o ce. Get all the details of the work put in writing and may not be concert tickets coming to you in the end. make sure that you understand everything in the document. Verify the individual is licensed, bonded, insured and has registered with WorkSafeBC QUICK TIP: Do not ever wire money to complete (Workers’ Compensation Board). If youare entering an order you have purchased from a stranger. into a contract with a contractor who came to your This money will be impossible to recover if the door to sell their services, ﬁnd out about your cancel- product you purchased does not arrive. If you are lation rights. Contact the Business Practices & meeting the person, try to meet in a neutral Consumer Protection Authority (BPCPA) toll free at location. Avoid purchasing things like gift 1.888.564.9963 or visit www.bpcpa.ca to ﬁnd out certiﬁcates and gift cards from online classiﬁeds. more about consumer contracts. Remember, price is If the person o ers the gift card for less than the not everything because in the end it may cost you value, the card may be either stolen or a fake. more than you planned. Top Ten SCAMS Continued... Cure-All Health Products Prize O ers: You Don’t Have to Pay To 5 Fraudulent “cure-all” health products 7 Play promise quick cures and easy solutions You may have attended a trade show and to a variety of problems, from obesity to diabetes entered a draw for a free trip, and several days later you and cancer. Any product that claims to be a miracle get a call you have won. Or, you received a letter that cure may be a fraud that could cheat you out of time, states that you have won an international lottery or money and most importantly, your health. fabulous prize. The common trait to both these ‘winnings’ is that thing is that you must send them money, be available for a home delivery or a special presentation, or QUICK TIP: Beware of ads that promise too provide them with some very personal information such much. Think twice before buying a product that as your bank account or credit card number. claims it can do it all. Steer clear of a product that claims to be a “scientiﬁc break through.” If the ﬁrst or only place you learn about a new QUICK TIP: If there’s a catch or condition, you treatment is through an advertisement on the haven’t won. If it sounds too good to be true, or Internet, be suspicious. Consult your health care you’re not sure, check the o er out further. Contact practitioner before trying any new treatment. For your BBB at 604.682.2711 or 1.888.803.1222. If you further information on health fraud, go to the think it's fraud, call the Canadian Anti-Fraud Call Competition Bureau’s website: Centre, PhoneBusters, at 1.888.495.8501. To be www.competitionbureau.gc.ca/healthfraud removed from telemarketing calling lists contact the Canadian Do Not Call List: 1.866.580.DNCL or go to: www.lnnte-dncl.gc.ca. Guaranteed Vehicle Brokers 6 After listing your used vehicle for sale in Bogus Cheques & Overpayment the classiﬁeds, you receive a phone call from a company advising you that they have a purchaser for your vehicle. The caller asks for a fee 8 Schemes guaranteeing that the purchaser will pay more than In this scam, fraudsters typically target the vehicle is advertised for. They promise that if you people selling a product through classiﬁed ads, online list your vehicle on their classiﬁed site and the vehicle bulletin boards or people looking for work on is not sold within 90 days, you will get your money employment postings. The scammer sends a cheque for back. Unfortunately, your vehicle is not sold, the the listed product or service that is more than the guarantee is not honoured, you can’t reach the negotiated price. The original cheque is usually stolen or company and you are out of pocket the funds you is a fake, and by the time the victim has cashed and have given this company. returned the excess funds, the scammer has disappeared with the money and the product. QUICK TIP: The BBB advises consumers to be In reality, the company sends you information on how wary of brokers who “guarantee” auto sales with you can lower your interest rates by contacting your prearranged buyers. Ask detailed questions such credit card companies directly and negotiating. In some as: is the buyer speciﬁcally interested in your situations, the consumer is not even eligible or able to vehicle, rather than a range of similar vehicles? use these services. Always understand telemarketing o ers and ask for additional documentation. Certain telemar- keters must be licensed in BC. You can check to QUICK TIP: Never accept payment for more than see if the telemarketing company is licensed your selling price. Never agree to refund the excess through the Business Practices and Consumer to a buyer or wire-transfer money to another Protection Authority of BC at www.bpcpa.ca or location. A legitimate buyer or employer would never 1.888.564.9963. ask you to do so. Consider using an independent online payment service. Speak to your credit card service provider to determine what avenues it has to guarantee payment processing. Top Ten SCAMS Continued... Eco Cons: Are You Buying It? 9 There are a number of products on supermarket shelves that are “green”, “eco-friendly”, “all natural” or “environmentally safe.” A study by TerraChoice Environmental Marketing found evidence of Greenwashing -- making false or misleading green marketing claims – For more information in 99% of products checked. Better Business Bureau QUICK TIP: Look for EcoLogo or Green Seal of Mainland B.C. symbols that show third party testing of Suite 404, 788 Beatty Street products. Be skeptical of marketing promotions Vancouver, BC V6B 2M1 that o er to support environmental processes Tel. 604 682 2711 Toll Free. 1 888 803 1222 without proof the processes are subscribed to Email: email@example.com and are e ective. Canada has guidelines for www.mbc.bbb.org green advertising that can be visited at the Competition Bureau website: Better Business Bureau www.competitionbureau.gc.ca of Vancouver Island #220-1175 Cook Street Victoria, BC, V8V 4A1 Tel. 250 386 6348 Spooﬁng Attacks 10 Toll Free. 1 877 826 4222 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org You may receive an email that looks www.vi.bbb.org like it is from an organization you know, or visit a webpage that looks like it is from your bank. When a person or program successfully Business Practices & Consumer masquerades as another by falsifying data, this is Protection Authority of BC spooﬁng. Spooﬁng attacks have grown and PO Box 9244 become more sophisticated and have illegally used Victoria, BC V8W 9J2 organizations like the Better Business Bureau and Toll Free in BC. 1 888 564 9963 the Canada Revenue Agency to trick consumers Email. email@example.com into sharing their information. The key common www.bpcpa.ca tactic is to get you to either ﬁll in personal information or download malicious software on to your computer to compromise your security and Competition Bureau Canada put your identity and money at risk. 2000-300 West Georgia St Vancouver, BC V6B 6E1 Toll Free. 1 800 348 5358 QUICK TIP: If you receive an email from a www.competitionbureau.gc.ca person or organization that instructs you to complete an online form, or download a program, stop. Organizations do not usually BC Crime Prevention Association correspond only by email, especially without #275 - 6450 Roberts Street prior contact. Call to check the legitimacy of Burnaby, BC V5G 4E1 the email. Do not click the link or respond to the Tel. 604 291 9959 email to play along, because you may expose Toll Free. 1 888 405 2288 your computer and your identity at risk. Delete Email: firstname.lastname@example.org www.bccpa.org the email. If you fear your computer has been compromised, contact a computer technician to examine your system. Make sure to check your credit report annually with Equifax (1.800.465.7166 or www.equifax.ca) and Trans Union Canada (1.866.525.0262 or www.tuc.ca.) For more information about identity theft, go to the BC Crime Prevention Association website: www.bccpa.org.
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