Competition Bureau offers tips to protect against fraud

Scams come in many forms and knowing how to recognize them will help build consumer confidence in the marketplace.

With Fraud Prevention Month underway, the Competition Bureau reminds consumers of some tips to detect scams over the Internet, by phone, by mail or in person.

First, be vigilant when evaluating advertising, whether for a job, a product or service offered online, over the phone or in print.

Before sending money or giving credit card or account details, be sure to understand what the agreement is. Do not feel pressured into paying for a product or service because of threats that a credit rating will be damaged.

Know the person in the deal. Be wary of any unsolicited phone calls, emails, text messages or letters from unknown sources.

Search for the company, the individuals, the product or the offer on the Internet, and verify any contact and company details.

Read the fine print to understand what the agreement is, particularly in emails or online messages.

Remember that trustworthy businesses will rarely contact anyone by email, phone or text message to ask for personal details, banking or financial information.

Keep in mind that wiring money is like sending cash – there is no protection against loss.

Beware of offers that promise “too much.”

It is also important to know:

– legitimate lottery and sweepstakes administrators never charge fees to deliver a prize;

– advertisements running on a social networking site are not necessarily credible or reliable;

– testimonials can appear quite believable by using so-called “satisfied customers,” “celebrities,” or “experts”; and

– a “free” trial offer should not require provision of a credit card number.

Consumers should also take measures to protect themselves in the online and mobile environments. It is important to install reputable security software on one’s computer and keep it up to date. Use a spam filter and a firewall to avoid malicious software damaging that computer or a mobile device, and preventing the theft of personal information. Consumers should also avoid clicking on links to websites contained in unsolicited emails or online messages.

The Competition Bureau has various tools on its website to help consumers recognize scams and avoid becoming a victim of fraud.

Consumer tools include: an updated fraud quiz; some common scams in the Recognize It section; victim stories that demonstrate how anyone can be a target of fraud; and other important tips on how to recognize, report and stop fraud. For more information, visit the Fraud Prevention section on the bureau’s website.

The Competition Bureau, as an independent law enforcement agency, ensures that Canadian businesses and consumers prosper in a competitive and innovative marketplace.