Protect yourself from becoming a victim in 2015

Watch out for these 10 scams which topped the list last year


Better Business Bureau (BBB) serving Vancouver Island announces the Top Ten Scams impacting our region in 2014, including consumer tips on how to identify these scams and what to do to protect yourself from becoming a victim in the new year.

1) Credit/Loan Scams

Many consumers applying online for personal loans found themselves victims of what is known as an advance fee scam. Victims were told they must wire money to cover an application fee, and/or to purchase insurance before receiving a financial loan. Once the money was wired to the lender, all contact with the lender ceased and no loan money was ever received by the victims.

Consumer tip:

Legitimate financial lenders will not require you to pay a fee or wire money for paperwork or insurance prior to getting a loan. Typically the cost of such fees is included in the total loan amount and is not an additional sum that you must pay up front in order to secure the loan.

2) Door-to-Door Handyman Scams

Homeowners were targeted by suspicious contractors, going door-to-door, using “limited opportunity” sales tactics and offering too good to be true verbal deals on home repair opportunities. The work completed by these “contractors” was of poor quality, often not properly completed, and once payment was made the contractors were nowhere to be found. Handyman services included but were not limited to: roof repair, painting, landscaping, paving and general home repairs.

Consumer tip:

Be aware that you get what you pay for. Legitimate, reputable contractors rarely sell their products or services door-to-door. Trustworthy contractors will provide you with a written estimate that should be valid for a reasonable and specific amount of time. Before hiring anyone to do any work on your home insist on a written contract outlining all the relevant details. Carefully read the fine print and be sure to check the contractor out at before you hire them.

3) Vacation Prize Giveaway Scams

Automated phone recordings pretending to come from legitimate airlines, hotels or vacation booking agents lured consumers into believing they were eligible to win a vacation prize.  A large range of listed, private unlisted and mobile phone numbers were targeted. When consumers tried to claim the prize they were connected to an operator that insisted on acquiring personal and credit card information in order to secure the winnings. No prize winnings were ever received.

Consumer tip:

Most legitimate airline, hotels and vacation booking agents do not participate in telemarketing promotions, solicitations or unsolicited prize giveaways. If you enter a contest to win a vacation prize give away, be sure to make note of the business offering the deal and the specifics of the offer. Be very cautious about how much private information you put on your entry form. You should never have to pay a fee to win a prize. Before giving out any personal information to “claim” a prize, ask to see the details of the prize in writing and carefully read the fine print. Some vacation prize giveaways may cost you more than you are willing to pay.

4) Computer Virus Telemarketing Scam

Telemarketers fraudulently claiming to represent Microsoft contact homeowners to inform them that their computer has been infected with a virus, which if not solved immediately will result in the computer becoming unusable. In order to “fix” the problem, the victim is directed to a website, asked to provide their credit card information as payment, and told to download an anti-virus program. In reality there is no computer virus, victims are giving out their credit card information to scammers, paying for an unnecessary service and downloading spyware onto their computer.

Consumer tip:

Treat all unsolicited phone calls with skepticism. Recognize that Microsoft or any other computer company does not know if your computer has a virus, and would not call you to tell you if it did. Never give out personal or banking information to anyone unless you are confident you can trust the source. Report fraudulent activity to your local BBB (250.386.6348) and the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (1.888.495.8501).

5) Masquerades

Many computer virus and phishing scams masquerade as the emails or websites of legitimate businesses and organizations. Using the logo and good name of reputable charities, non-profits, banks, government agencies and businesses, scam artists send out a variety of legitimate looking, but fake links designed for you to click on so that they can install malware on your computer or steal your private information (such as passwords and account information).

Consumer tip:

Never open an email, click on any links, or download any files unless you are certain you understand the reason you are receiving the email. If at any time you think you might have become the victim of a phishing or other computer, email or Internet scam have your computer scanned by a trusted computer repair professional to see if any malware is present.

6) Fake Debt Collection Scams

Beware telephone calls from scammers claiming to be debt collectors tracking down payment for loans never received or for loans that were received, but for amounts no longer owing. Callers sound legitimate and may already have your contact information, private banking and SIN number. Using aggressive and threatening tactics these fake debt collectors ask you to wire money or risk being sent to jail.

Consumer tip:

If you receive a questionable debt collection call inform the caller that you will not provide any information to them until you get a written notice clearly explaining how much money you owe and to whom it must be paid. If you are uncertain about an unpaid debt, contact the original lender. Find out if there is a balance due and if they have sent you to collections or not. Never wire money to pay a debt. Wire payments are virtually untraceable once they have been received.

7) Unauthorized Billing Scams

Both consumers and businesses found themselves victims of billing scams in which their credit card statements included minor charges for unknown products or services. Scammers, using the guise of a fake business charged stolen credit card numbers small amounts of money (under $10) assuming that most cardholders wouldn’t notice the relatively small charge.

Consumer tip:

Reduce your risk of credit card fraud by always reporting lost credit cards and incorrect charges on your bill to your financial institution. Carefully monitor your statements and compare purchases with printed receipts. If your credit card has been compromised have it replaced immediately. Always use extreme caution when purchasing products online or over the phone. Make sure the person you are dealing with is from a known and reputable company.

8) Counterfeit Drugs & Health Products

Many consumers are being lured by too good to be true print, television and online advertising for miracle drugs, eye care products and other health or beauty products that promise more than they deliver. Everything from diet pills, to flu vaccines, to prescription medications can be purchased online or by phone these days. Counterfeit products are rampant and it is difficult to know if the products you are purchasing are safe, effective, stored properly, are past their expiry date or really part of a multi-level marketing scheme.

Consumer tip:

Even though it can be more expensive the safest way to purchase drugs and health products is through the prescription or referral of a certified health care practitioner and from a local, known pharmacy or health store or supplier. Before you purchase drugs online or via phone be sure to do your research first to make sure the company and product are legitimate, effective and that you understand the risks associated with it. Be sure to record the name of the business, their street location, their phone number, and that you understand the terms of their refund and exchange policies.

9) Directory Invoice Scams

Local companies were aggressively targeted via fax and email with a fake invoice that appeared to be for advertising in a popular business directory. Businesses that paid the fake invoice, or filled the contact form attached, contractually agreed to purchase costly advertising in a virtually unknown online directory.

Consumer tip:

Both businesses and individuals need to carefully review every invoice and bill received to ensure they are from legitimate companies that you actually do business with. When signing any document or making any payment carefully read the fine print to make sure you understand the terms and conditions of the sale.

10) Trending Click Bait Scams

Scammers use popular or “trending” news and entertainment topics to trick consumers into clicking on fake links to videos, images and posts embedded in social media sites, on websites and in emails. The fake links often result in malicious viruses, malware and spyware being downloaded onto computers, tablets and smart phones. In some cases, the link takes you to what appears to be a login page to your own social media account, but really it is a fake page intended to steal your login information and to hack into your account.

Consumer tip:

Don’t take the bait. Stay away from promotions with phrases like “exclusive,” “shocking” or “sensational” footage. Hover over a link to see it’s true destination. Before you click, mouse over the link to see exactly where the URL is intended to take you. Don’t click on links leading to unfamiliar websites. Be wary of links sent to you by friends. It is possible that the your friend is unintentionally sending you a dangerous link or their account might have been hacked. Install anti-virus software on all your computers and be sure to have your devices regularly scanned.

For more consumer and business tips you can trust, visit

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Ownership of SISȻENEM — also known as Halibut Island located east off Sidney Island — has transferred to W̱SÁNEĆ Leadership Council after The Land Conservancy of British Columbia (TLC) had purchased the island for $1.55 million. (The Land Conservancy/Submitted)
SISȻENEM (Halibut Island) transfers to W̱SÁNEĆ Leadership Council under historic agreement

The Land Conservancy purchased the 9.67-acre island for $1.55 million with help from unnamed donor

Landis Carmichael is the Goldstream Gazette 2021 Local Hero as the Emergency Services Award winner. (Photo courtesy Landis Carmichael)
29-year-old firefighter has spent almost half his life with Langford department

Landis Carmichael is the 2021 recipient of the Emergency Services Award

Shannon Davis, manager at Sidney’s Star Cinema, holds up the largest available bag of popcorn available for sale at the theatre. It also also sells four smaller sizes in generating revenue following its closure last fall because of COVID-19. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Sidney theatre fills bottom line with popcorn sales

Theatre applying to return to doing our household-only private rentals

Karen DeCicco and Darren Russell have been named principals of the Sooke School District’s two newest schools, both under construction in Langford. DeCicco will lead Pexsisen Elementary while Russell will be at Centre Mountain Lellum Middle School, both starting in spring of 2022. (Courtesy Sooke School District)
Principals named for new Langford schools set to open in 2022

Sooke School District tabs veteran educators with strong track records on the West Shore

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature. (B.C. government)
B.C. reports 10 additional deaths, 395 new COVID-19 cases

The majority of new coronavirus infections were in the Fraser Health region

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Feb. 23

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

(Black Press Media File Photo)
POLL: Are you struggling with Greater Victoria’s cost of housing?

While Victoria remains one of the most expensive cities in the country… Continue reading

The BC Prosecution Service announced last year that it was appointing lawyer Marilyn Sandford as a special prosecutor to review the case, following media inquiries about disclosure issues linked to a pathologist involved in the matter. (Black Press Media files)
Possible miscarriage of justice in B.C. woman’s conviction in toddler drowning: prosecutor

Tammy Bouvette was originally charged with second-degree murder but pleaded guilty in 2013 to the lesser charge

A kid in elementary school wearing a face mask amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Metro Creative)
Union asks why an elementary school mask rule wouldn’t work in B.C. if it does elsewhere

B.C. education minister announced expansion of mask-wearing rules in middle, high school but not elementary students

A pharmacist prepares a COVID-19 vaccine at Village Green Retirement Campus in Federal Way on Jan. 26. (Olivia Sullivan/Sound Publishing)
Canada approves use of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine

The country joins more than a dozen others in giving the shot the green light

Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools is preparing a rapid response team proposal for submission to the B.C. Ministry of Education. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Nanaimo school district chosen as Vancouver Island’s COVID-19 rapid response team

Team to consist of SD68 and Island Health staff, according to B.C. Ministry of Education

A new survey has found that virtual visits are British Columbian’s preferred way to see the doctor amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Unsplash)
Majority of British Columbians now prefer routine virtual doctor’s visits: study

More than 82% feel virtual health options reduce wait times, 64% think they lead to better health

Ella Donovan with mom Tina outside Fuller Lake Arena before heading onto the ice for practice. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Young Ladysmith skater watches and waits in battle against cancer

Ella Donovan’s tumour began a tumultuous time, but community support eased the burden

Most Read