Frauds, Scams, and Consumer Alerts
Financial and Investment Scams
The following are common consumer scams and ways to protect yourself.
Telemarketing fraud can occur in several forms.
In some cases, various prizes are offered such as trips, cars or televisions, if novelty items such as pens or calendars are purchased using a credit card. To protect yourself from this scam, only give your credit card number over the phone to reputable businesses that you know you can trust. Do not accept cash-on-delivery (C.O.D.) packages.
In other cases, you may receive a call saying that you have won money, a car or a new TV - but you need to send the tax owing or a shipping fee to claim your prize. Do not send any money until you have checked with the Consumer Protection Division at (306) 787-5550 or 1-877-880-5550 (toll free).
Similarly, you may receive a call saying that you have won a free gift - but your prize is dependent on agreeing to sales demonstration. Salespeople sometimes use the "free gift", "special offer" or "you've just won" telephone calls to get into your home to sell you something. Before you agree to the delivery of a gift or special offer, ask the following questions:
If you have a question about telemarketing, call the Consumer Protection Division at 787-5550 (in Regina) or 1-877-880-5550 (toll-free). For more information on telemarketing and Project Phonebusters, see the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Web site.
Bait and Switch
You are baited into the store to purchase or make inquiries about a product or service because of its low price. Once you are in the store the sellers uses high pressure sales tactics to "switch" you to a higher priced article or service.
Bait and Switch is illegal under federal law. If you believe you have been baited and switched, contact Industry Canada at 1-800-348-5358.
Phoney bank inspector
A phoney bank inspector or official telephones or comes to your home and asks you to help trap a dishonest bank employee by withdrawing money to give to the inspector as evidence against the employee. The bank inspector disappears and so does your money.
Never take money out of the bank and give it to a stranger. If anyone makes this request, call the police or bank manager right away.
You are solicited over the phone to donate money to a charity you have never heard of.
Ask for the organization's name, address and phone number. Check the information you are given. Ask for the charitable donation number from Revenue Canada.
Envelope stuffing, chain letters and drop-shipping schemes offer moneymaking opportunities for working at home. A small payment is required for information on the business opportunity.
Many of these schemes are illegal. All that is received is information on how to get people to fall for the same scheme. Do not get involved in these promotions.
Unknown-small business investment
You receive an invitation to invest money in a new product, distributorship or invention. There is a promise of big profits and high returns on your investment.
Check the company's financial health. Ask for references and investigate thoroughly before handing over any money. Get all promises in writing and have your lawyer check the contract before signing.
You are lured into buying a product by the promise of a rebate or commission if you give names of other prospective customers.
Referral selling is illegal under The Direct Sellers Act, except for home party promotions such as candle parties. If you receive such a request please contact Consumer Protection Division at (306) 787-5550 or 1-877-880-5550 (toll free).
Good Samaritan swindle
A "Good Samaritan" phones to tell you he or she has found your credit cards and will return them to you. You fail to cancel the cards and the person uses the delay to run up charges on your cards.
If your credit cards are missing, notify the issuers immediately.
Credit card con
Your credit card number is often all that is needed to charge items on your card. This number can be obtained in several ways:
Only reveal your credit card number over the phone to businesses you know you can trust, and only when necessary. Take the carbon with you when you receive your bill.
Time share plans
You are offered an opportunity to buy a one-week-a-year vacation in a luxury condo for a minimal amount of money. This is a time share agreement that gives you the right to use the property for a specific time period.
If the time share is sold in Saskatchewan, the seller must be licensed under The Real Estate Act, a prospectus approved and distributed to potential purchasers, and a security must be deposited with the Saskatchewan Real Estate Commission. Read the prospectus before deciding to make the purchase. Be aware that swapping and resale may be a problem. If possible, visit the location prior to the sale.
Check the company's financial health. Check to see if the developer is registered with the Canadian Resort Development Association at (416) 960-4930. Get promises in writing and have your lawyer check the contract before signing it. Place the payment in escrow, a trust fund at the bank arranged by your lawyer, if the project is still under construction.