March is Fraud Prevention Month in Canada. Throughout the month the Medicine Hat Police Service (MHPS) Community Support Unit is sharing tips on how to recognize, reject and report common frauds and scams.
This week’s focus is on business and service scams, which account for many of the face-to-face frauds reported to the MHPS. Service scams can include home renovation scams by unlicensed contractors, as well as door-to-door fundraising scams which will often target seniors.
Before engaging a potential contractor, it is very important to ask questions ahead of time and request the names of past clients as references to confirm the quality of their work. Professional contractors will have no issues with providing you with this information and photos of their previous work. Always be wary of contractors who request payment in full prior to beginning any work.
Be extremely cautious when hiring someone from an online resource. Often, these “businesses” will operate on a buyer beware policy and will offer no reimbursement if the deal falls through. Never pay upfront in full for services to be completed. Once you have paid, it may become a civil issue for you to have your work completed. While online communities can be an excellent place to locate a potential service provider, always meet with the contractor in person and go through the proper steps to verify their credentials before hiring them to complete the work.
If someone comes to your door, claiming to represent a company or community organization, always ask to see an identification badge or supporting documentation before donating funds. If they are unable to produce ID, there is a good chance that it is a scam. Even if they have an ID badge, but something still does not feel right, do not allow yourself to be pressured into donating money and contact the MHPS at 403-529-8481 to report the suspicious behavior.
To learn more about common frauds and scams visit the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre website at www.antifraudcentre.ca.