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North York • Since 1996
Charitable Registration Number: 88909 2565 RR0001
811 6021 Yonge Street
Toronto · ON · M2M 3W2
Telephone: 416-733-7691

PROTECT YOURSELF FROM FRAUD

As the old saying goes: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is! So here are a few examples of some advertising or phone calls that probably are too good to be true.

When in doubt, check the list of phone numbers at the end of this pamphlet and get in touch with the appropriate organization for advice.

YOU WON!

You have just received a phone call, or a Scratch 'n Win card in the mail, notifying you that you have won a fabulous prize - money, a cruise, an exotic trip, an entertainment centre, a membership to some exclusive club, whatever. But before you can collect your 'free' prize, you must send money for shipping or taxes or customs fees, or call a 1-900 telephone number which will cost you a bundle.

Forget it! 'Free' prizes should be FREE. So don't send money or give out your credit card number or any personal or financial information - it's probably a scam. Get help from PHONEBUSTERS or the Consumer Services Bureau.

ITS A MIRACLE

Many of us have been tempted by ads for miracle cures, or guaranteed weight loss gimmicks, or instant hair growth formulas, or incredible rejuvenation potions. Well - that's what many of them seem to be: incredible. Check out the claims but most of all: use your common sense. Call the Consumer Services Bureau, or the Ministry of Consumer and Business Services.

GET RICH

Perhaps you smell the lure of big money to be made from home, $2,000 a month for stuffing envelopes, for example. But you may have to send them start-up money, which you may never earn back. So, don't send any money before you check out the company, and be on your guard. Beware of all cash up front opportunities. Again, the Consumer Services Bureau or the Ministry of Consumer and Business Services can help.

INVESTMENT FRAUD

Financial scams can target their victims over the phone or in person, door-to-door. If a stranger wants you to invest in a "great deal" which offers "guaranteed high returns and low risk" or if he wants you to borrow money to invest in such a deal, or if he pretends to have insider information - listen to all the alarm bells in your head! Also, retirement properties offered at conspicuously low prices are usually fraudulent. If you are interested, ask for and check the person's credentials and registration, and check out the proposed investment. Never give any financial or personal information to a stranger, and never give your credit card number, but contact the Ontario Securities Commission before going ahead with any commitment.

CATCH A CRIMINAL

Another financial scam that has been used successfully for decades appeals to people's desire to be helpful. "You can help us catch a criminal" is the line. They tell you to go to your bank and withdraw a certain amount of money, and give that money to an "inspector." The catch is that you never see your money again, but your scam artist is richer on your account. Again, never agree to such a proposal, but say, "No thanks, I'm not interested." Get the person's name and phone number, and report it to the Consumer Services Bureau, or call PHONEBUSTERS.

HOME REPAIRS

If you are still living in your own home, you will have run into home repair scams. "We will be in your neighbourhood tomorrow" is the usual line, and they will want to sell you new windows, or do repair work, or pave your driveway, or renovate your kitchen or bathroom. Often, their special price is "good only today" or "this week."

Don't let yourself be pressured into something you're not ready for, and don't sign a contract without checking out the company. If you need work done, shop around and carefully choose a reputable, licensed company. You may be able to cancel a contract within 10 days of signing it, but you may also lose your deposit if the company is fraudulent. The Government of Ontario can help you with this.