The Canadian Marketing Association (CMA) wants to help prevent fraud. As a long-standing member of the Competition Bureau's Fraud Prevention Forum, we educate Canadians on how to recognize, report and stop fraud.
Your best defense against becoming a victim of fraud is through awareness and education. This page is dedicated to helping consumers be more aware so you can protect yourself. We encourage you to share this information to help others avoid fraud.
Recognize scams and fraud
The first step in avoiding becoming a victim of fraud is to be alert and avoid common scams. Here are the top things to watch for:
- The deal sounds too good to be true.
- Someone tells you that you've won a prize in a contest that you don't recall entering.
- You are told that in order to claim your prize, you need to send in some money (e.g., to pay for taxes, shipping or processing).
- Someone wants to pay you by cheque for items that you selling online.
- You are asked to make a donation to a charity that is unknown.
- You are pressured to accept a promotion. For example, you are told: "Today is the final day of this promotion, so you must act now."
- A caller offers to come to your home for a free demonstration or wants to send someone over to your home pick up your cheque.
- You are asked for your banking information.
- You are asked to call a 1-900 number. Be careful, there is always a charge to call a 1-900 number.
- The person calling refers to you by your first name and asks you a lot of personal or lifestyle questions, such as where you work, how often your children visit, or what type of hobbies you have.
- You are told that you must make a purchase to enter a contest - a practice that is not legal in Canada.
Fraudsters can be very clever and persuasive. Stay vigilent so you do not fall for their tactics. Below are some of the most common scams you need to avoid.
- Imposter - An individual claims to be a government official, someone you know like a family member, tech support, a senior member of the company you work at etc.
- Advance fee - A scammer claims you have been approved for a loan, have won a lottery or contest, but in order to receive the funds you need to first pay a fee.
- Subsription traps and deceptive free trials - Always read the fine print, terms and conditions carefully, as you may be charged more after the trial period ends. You may need to contact your bank or credit card company to stop payments.
- Spoofed websites - Do not open links from untrusted sources. Ensure you check the website URL for anything that may be out of the oridinary, like an accent on a letter or the misspelling of the company name.
- Cheque deposit and overpayment - Do not deposit cheques from unexpected sources and do not refund any excess funds prior to verifying the authenticity of the request.
- Astroturfing, fake online endorsements and sponsored content - Legitimate companies will be up front and disclose when an endorser is affiliated with them. Do your research to determine whether the review you are relying on are genuine.
- Ticket sales - Scammers attempt to sell fake, stolen or already claimed tickets. Purchase from legitimate sellers.
- Online dating and romance - be weary of made up stories, persistant out of country claims, and requests to send money through wire transfer or gift cards.
The Competition Bureau has more in-depth information on these scams and fraud prevention on their website.
If you are a business owner, read our blog to learn about some of the most common scams that target businesses.
Here are some of the best ways that you can protect yourself against the scams described above.
- Regularly check for scam alerts online.
- Review the terms and conditions before making a purchase.
- Take the time to think about an offer. Do not feel pressured to respond on the spot and request detailed contact information.
- Shred all personal documents such as transaction records, credit applications, insurance forms, cheques, financial statements and tax returns that are no longer needed.
- Change passwords frequently and don't recycle them.
- When you receive an unexpected request, do not send any money or provide any personal information.
- Check out the legitimacy of companies, products or offers you receive by researching them online.
- Always call your bank at the number provided on the back of your card.
- Clear browser cache after visiting secure website.
- Register your telephone number of the National Do Not Call List.
If you encounter a scam or if you have been defrauded, it is important that you report it. The authorities will gather evidence and alert law enforcement in Canada and abroad. You may not be able to recoup money, but by alerting authorities, you might be able to prevent others from becoming victims, and to help stop the fraudsters.
You can report scams by contacting any of the following:
It's important to note that depending on the type of fraud, there could be several organiztions that you should notify. Check this list and make sure to keep all evidence related to your situation.