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Lives can be ruined by fraud: protect yourself with these tips

(NC) Recognize it. Report it. Stop it. Those three sentences represent the theme for Fraud Prevention Month in Canada, and an action plan of sorts for all Canadians. The public awareness campaign is run by government and law enforcement agencies to help empower consumers against fraud schemes that stop at nothing to steal your money or your identity.

Every year, millions of Canadians fall prey to all kinds of scams—everything from fake lotteries and telephone schemes to health and medical scams that prey on human suffering by offering magic weight loss pills and miracle cures for serious illnesses.

"By recognizing scams and reporting them, consumers and businesses can protect themselves and assist in the fight against fraud. We work with our partners to educate Canadians during Fraud Prevention Month and throughout the year to combat fraudulent activity," says John Pecman, commissioner of the Competition Bureau.

The Competition Bureau is reminding consumers of some simple tips to avoid being scammed, whether it is over the Internet, over the phone, by mail or in person:

Beware of offers that seem “too good to be true”.

Be vigilant when evaluating ads, whether for a job, a product or service offered online, over the phone or in print.

Know who you are dealing with.

Be wary of any unsolicited phone calls, e-mails, text messages or letters from unknown sources.

Before sending money or giving credit card or bank account details, be sure you understand what you are agreeing to.

Research the company, the individuals, the product or the offer and verify any contact and company details.

It is also important to keep these tips in mind:

A "free" trial offer that requires a credit card number often leads to charges you didn't expect – if finding and understanding the terms and conditions is difficult, think twice.

Trustworthy businesses almost never contact you or visit your home unannounced to ask for personal details, banking or financial information. They will not do so by e-mail, phone or text message.

Legitimate lottery and sweepstakes administrators never charge fees to deliver a prize.

Sending money using a money-transfer outlet, also called “wiring” money, is like sending cash – you have no protection against loss.

Testimonials can appear quite believable by using so-called "satisfied customers", "celebrities", or "experts".

To report a scam or learn more about Fraud Prevention Month, visit or call 1-800-348-5358, or call 1-888-495-8501.

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