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BBB Announces Top 10 Scams List
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PROTECT YOURSELF FROM BECOMING A VICTIM IN 2013
– Each year the Better Business Bureau (BBB) compiles a list of the scams that have most significantly impacted consumers on Vancouver Island. The following is a brief summary of the top scams from the past calendar year and simple tips to help you avoid becoming a victim of fraud in 2013.
1) Social Media Scams
Social networking sites are being targeted with offers to download apps, freebies and discounts or to click on hyperlinks to activate or de-activate accounts. Clicking on a malicious link often results in a virus or spyware being downloaded to your computer or smart phone.
Always be on the look out for phishing scams. Be wary of any posts that come from unknown sources. Don’t be duped into too-good-to-be-true offers. Ensure you have good anti-virus protection on all your smartphones and computers.
2) Door-To-Door Scams
Door-to-door scams are a problem every year. BBB received reports in 2012 about a variety of door-to-door solicitations from service repair people using aggressive tactics, performing poor quality work, demanding payment up front in cash or requiring cheques to be made out to an individual, rather than a business.
Don’t feel pressured to buy a product or have a service performed without researching the business first. Look up a company’s BBB Business Review (
before making a purchase or hiring a company. Get a written contract, read the fine print and make payments out directly to the company, not an individual.
3) Fake Charities
With every natural disaster or community devastation, a host of fake charities pop up overnight hoping to rip-off caring donors. Beware unfamiliar charities soliciting donations via social media, email or door-to-door, that claim 100% of donations will assist victims, that use high-pressure solicitation tactics, that ask you to pay by cash, or that do not issue receipts.
Only give to reputable well-known organizations. Look charities up with CRA and BBB before donating. Remember that legitimate charities want a paper trail for tax purposes. Keep records of your donations including receipts, canceled cheques and bank statements. When possible, consider a planned approach to making donations.
4) Identity Theft
ID theft occurs when someone uses your personal and financial information to obtain credit cards, loans, or goods and services without your consent or knowledge. People often find out that they are victims of ID theft after they are contacted by a collections agency for bills that have not been paid.
Techno-savvy scammers steal personal information most commonly via brand spoofing or phishing scams — creating malicious hyperlinks that direct you to fill out personal financial information, or by providing downloads that install spyware. Other common ID theft scams include mail fraud, dumpster diving and family, friends or employees stealing bank account information.
5) Point-of-Sale (POS) Scams
Protecting your debit, credit card numbers and PIN information is vital when paying for an item. Fraudulent skimmers or scanning devices can be used at point-of-sale terminals at bars, gas stations, ATM’s etc. to steal your private financial information. Skimming devices can be difficult to detect and scams may include false keypads, magnetic strip readers and hidden cameras.
Always keep your debit and credit cards in sight when paying for an item. Be aware of your surroundings when withdrawing money or paying for an item. Be sure no one is watching you enter your PIN. If something seems suspicious about a point-of-sale device report it immediately. Never allow a sales assistant to swipe your card through a second machine. Regularly monitor your financial statements.
6) Texting Scams
Unethical advertisers have been reported to send text messages to mobile users offering discounts, deals or other opportunities, which result in victims being tricked into signing up for monthly services with expensive additional fees, or into providing personal information that is sold to affiliate companies and unethical marketers.
Use extreme caution when dealing with unsolicited text messages. Do not respond to texts from any numbers that you do not recognize. Always read the fine print and privacy policies carefully before signing up for any services or opportunities. If you are curious about a promotional opportunity contact the company directly to inquire about the details.
7) Credit Repair Scams
Using the name of the Credit Counseling Society of BC or other reputable agencies, unethical credit repair companies have been soliciting by phone offering to consolidate debt or repair credit ratings. Personal and financial information is collected, and advance service fees are charged, without any legitimate services being provided.
Most services being offered by unethical credit repair companies can be performed yourself at no cost. The only people that can permanently remove a record from your credit report are the credit bureau or the creditor (lender). Independently research and comparison shop for the best debt consolidation options available to you.
8) Senior Home Repair Scams
Unscrupulous, often unqualified fraudsters claiming to be renovation or repair contractors or handymen, continue to take advantage of unsuspecting seniors. Beware unsolicited offers to complete projects with no written contract, requests for payment up front, and aggressive or high-pressure sales tactics.
Be suspicious of handymen that solicit door-to-door, use embarrassment as a sales tactic, or who are intimidating. Call the police, if someone will not leave your property upon request. Before starting any project check the company out with the BBB, get references, comparison shop and get a detailed written contract.
9) Online Shopping
The most common online shopping scams include: stolen gift cards, phishing scams and counterfeit products. The key to protecting yourself is to do your research, always be sure you know who you are doing business with, and to protect your private information.
In most cases if you are actively seeking out a legitimate reputable online shopping site, you are cautious with your private information, and you are not lured into unsolicited too-good-to be true offers, you should have a safe, enjoyable and even stress free online shopping experience.
10) Online Auctions & Classifieds
A wide variety of scams take place via online classified and auction sites, such as eBay, Craigslist and Used Victoria (as well as others). Sometimes the seller is the con artist, lying about contact information, posting fake product information or failing to ship the purchased item. Other times the buyer is the scam artist using a stolen credit card, attempting an overpayment scam, or lying about not receiving an item.
Before participating in online classifieds or auction sites, be sure to research the site itself to make sure it is reputable. Find out about what policies or practices are in place to protect you from fraud. Before doing business with a buyer or seller, be sure to investigate any peer reviews about them. Know the risks of doing business with a stranger and use extreme caution.
For more consumer and business tips you can trust, visit
To download the Top 10 Scams Brochure for printing
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© 2014 BBB of Vancouver Island