New Year's advice from your BBB
January 06, 2009

Start with your BBB – Too many times, consumers contact BBB after they’ve already fallen victim to a scam.  Check out companies before making purchase decisions at www.calgary.bbb.org.

Never Wire Money to an Unknown Source – Scammers often require victims to use MoneyGram or Western Union to pay fees to receive phony sweepstakes winnings, participate in deceptive mystery shopper “jobs,” buy merchandise online, and a multitude of other fraudulent offers.  Money transfer services are not able to retrieve wired funds if you discover you’ve been scammed. 

Throw Away Cheques from Unfamiliar Companies – The use of counterfeit checks in sweepstakes and mystery shopper job offers remained popular in 2008 – victims are instructed to deposit the cheque, then wire all or most of the funds to the scammer.  If you fall for this one, you’ll be notified by your bank within several weeks that the cheque was counterfeit and you must repay the funds to the bank out of your own pocket.

Beware the Bogus Buyer (or Seller) – If you are selling merchandise online, do not fall for e-mails from overseas buyers who are willing to send you cheques for more than the cost of the item.  If so, you would be told to deposit the cheque and wire the difference back to the buyer – but the cheque is counterfeit, and you will have to repay to the bank any funds you wired, as well as the merchandise you sent to the buyer.

Don’t be Worked Over by Phony Job Offers – Mystery shoppers, reshipping services, payment processors, – these and many more phony job offers await the unsuspecting job seeker.  Avoid any position that requires you to pay an upfront fee; deposit a check and use the funds to do mystery shoppings; accept packages or cheques that you will resend to a third party; or purchase instructions or kits to do work at home.

Protect your Personal Information – Do not give your SIN, credit card numbers, bank account numbers or other personal information to strangers. If you receive an e-mail, phone call or text message from someone claiming to represent your bank requesting this type of information due to a “security breach”, “lost records” or other excuse, don’t believe it.  Contact your bank directly (look up the number yourself) and ask if the call or e-mail is really from it. Chances are, it won’t be.

Get on the Do Not Call List – You can limit the number of telemarketing calls you receive by placing your phone number on the National Do Not Call List.  You can find more information on this by clicking here:  http://www.crtc.gc.ca/ENG/dncl.htm

Most of all, remember: if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!