FCAC: Beware of "investment opportunities" that sound too good to be true
The Acting Commissioner of the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC) is advising all Canadians to use extreme caution with regard to Internet and phone investment schemes that claim to offer very high "guaranteed" returns on investment, or loan offers that request an up-front fee from the borrower. The warning comes as a result of calls the Agency has received from consumers.
The Acting Commissioner is warning consumers to be particularly wary of any investment offers or advice given by total strangers, particularly when the offer or advice comes by way of a "cold call" or over the Internet.
The Agency offers the following tips for consumers:
- Never trust offers that seem too good to be true.
- Deal with companies you know and trust.
- Contact any regulatory bodies or government agencies that a company lists as regulators, to verify claims of regulatory oversight.
- When contacting regulatory agencies, use contact information you have looked up yourself or obtained from a trusted source - do not use telephone numbers or links provided by the company or website whose legitimacy you are checking.
There are several ways consumers can get information about companies or products offered by telephone or on the Internet. FCAC offers the following advice to help Canadians find the information they need:
- To verify the legitimacy of a financial institution or other company, check with the following:
- To verify the legitimacy of any financial institution that you do not know about, contact the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions (OSFI). OSFI publishes the names of entities that it believes may be of concern to the business community and the public. None of these entities is regulated by OSFI or under any Canadian federal financial institutions legislation. The list is available at http://www.osfi-bsif.gc.ca/osfi/index_e.aspx?ArticleID=166#warninglist. For more information about the list, you can e-mail OSFI at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- To verify the legitimacy of any company offering investment services, you can also contact the consumer services department of your provincial government. Check FCAC's website (www.fcac.gc.ca) for contact information for provincial consumer services. (On the left-hand menu, click on "About FCAC", then click on "Other Regulators".)
- If you believe you have been a victim of fraud as a result of a telephone or Internet scheme, call Canadian Anti Fraud Centre (CAFC) at 1-888-495-8501. Canadian Anti Fraud Centre (CAFC) is a national call centre operated by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and the Ontario Provincial Police. It collects information on telemarketing, advanced fee fraud letters and identity theft complaints. The Canadian Anti Fraud Centre (CAFC) website (www.antifraudcentre.ca) also has information on common fraudulent schemes.
- To find answers to any questions about financial products and services or your rights and responsibilities when dealing with federally regulated financial institutions, or to make a complaint, contact FCAC toll-free at: 1-866-461-3222, or visit our Web site: www.fcac.gc.ca.