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Better Business Bureau ®
Start With Trust®
Southern Alberta & East Kootenay
Direct Marketing Scams
November 24, 2013

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Direct marketing employs a wide range of techniques to reach potential consumers. Some of these include the distribution of pamphlets or brochures, letters, mail order, and telemarketing.

Many legitimate businesses employ direct marketing to tell potential customers about legitimate offers. However, consumers should be cautious of direct marketing offers that have the following characteristics:

  1. You are notified that you are a guaranteed winner of a fabulous prize or cash.
  2. You are advised that in order to receive the guaranteed prize, you must send money for a redemption charge or purchase a specified quantity of merchandise.
  3. The notification uses come-on statements to entice consumers into action. Statements such as "This is your sole and final notice" or "To receive your prize you must act within 72 hours".

The general nature of complaints received at Better Business Bureau on Direct Marketing firms has been:

  1. Prizes have not materialized.
  2. Merchandise purchased is of inferior quality and is overpriced compared to similar items in a local store.
  3. Consumers have been left with little or no legal recourse.

Some points to consider when making a decision regarding a direct marketing offer are:

  1. Remember that a guarantee is only as good as the company offering it.
  2. Keep in mind that these direct marketing firms contact thousands of consumers with exactly the same pitch. Companies cannot afford to give genuinely valuable prizes to thousands of people nationwide.
  3. As a general rule, Better Business Bureau urges consumers to use caution whenever sending money in advance, or when disclosing any personal or financial information to an unknown source.

Due to the high volume of inquiries received by BBB on Direct Marketing Schemes, this report is one of a general nature to assist consumers in making informed decisions.

For more information, please refer to the tips on: Prize schemes, Ponzi Schemes, Phony Invoice Schemes, Unsolicited Merchandise and Mail.