Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Fraud Prevention Month Canada

Hard economic times can be boom times for scammers

OTTAWA, March 2, 2009 -- The Government of Canada is warning businesses and consumers to be on the lookout for an increase in fraudulent activity by scammers during the current downturn in the economy.

“Now more than ever, consumers and businesses can ill afford to lose money to scam artists,” said Melanie Aitken, Interim Commissioner of Competition.“We expect both businesses and consumers to be more vulnerable to scams as they look to minimize expenses. It is important that they recognize the signs of fraudulent activity in the marketplace.”

Ms. Aitken made the remarks at the launch of Fraud Prevention Month, an annual education and awareness campaign in Canada and around the world. She was joined by business and consumer groups, all of whom urged Canadian business and consumers to avoid becoming victims of fraud by learning how to recognize it, report it and stop it.

Throughout the month, the Fraud Prevention Forum, a concerned group of private-sector firms, consumer and volunteer groups, government agencies and law enforcement organizations, works to educate Canadians. The Fraud Prevention Forum is chaired by the Competition Bureau.

“Working together with our partners in the Fraud Prevention Forum, to educate consumers and businesses, and to prosecute those determined to cheat Canadians, is essential in the fight against mass marketing fraud,” Ms. Aitken added

“The role of the Better Business Bureau is to promote trust in the marketplace. Fraud undermines that trust, which is why we are so committed to participating in Fraud Prevention Month activities each year,” said Doug Simpson, president of the Canadian Council of Better Business Bureaus.

“As a not for profit association, Option consommateurs has been actively promoting and defending the rights of consumers for the last 25 years,” said Anu Bose, the Head of the Ottawa office of Option consommateurs. “Fraud is a grave violation of a person’s rights. Consumers need to be even more vigilant in hard times. Fraud Prevention Month is a tool for raising consumer awareness so that men and women, young and old do not fall prey to fraudsters.”

In 2008, the Competition Bureau received almost 15,000 mass marketing fraud complaints from Canadians, which is fraud by mail, telephone and Internet. These complaints included everything from fraudulent contests where winners were asked to pay up front to collect their prize, to bogus directory listings, where companies who did not order directories were contacted to verify their mailing information so that a bill could be sent.

Over the next four weeks, Fraud Prevention Forum members will host a number of fraud awareness activities, including regional news conferences and fraud seminars, interactive online quizzes and shredding events.


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