Some of the worst flooding experienced in recent memory has occurred here in Eastern Ontario and in these times of disaster, we get to see the best of people, but we also get to see the worst of people.
As the flood waters recede and the scope of home and property damages are revealed, the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) want to warn and remind home, business and property owners of fraud artists who use these opportunities to take advantage of individuals generosity or to prey on vulnerable flood victims.
In addition, property owners may be approached by fraudsters attempting to provide disaster relief or water filtration and testing services.
In April 2017, the Government of Ontario passed Bill 59, the ‘Putting Consumers First Act’ legislation to strengthen customer protection by introducing new rules for home door to door sales. For further information visit: http://www.sse.gov.on.ca/mcs/en/pages/default.aspx
The types of frauds to be aware of are:
If you’re thinking about giving to a charity to assist those affected by the recent floods, the OPP is asking the public to do your research to avoid fraudsters who try to take advantage of your generosity. Often, a scammer will exploit a recent natural disaster.
Warning signs include high pressure or threatening telemarketers who want you to contribute immediately; when someone calls and thanks you for a pledge you don’t remember making.
If an unfamiliar charity organization contacts you – by mail, phone, in person, or via email – be careful. Ask for detailed information about the charity, if it is a registered charity and obtain the full name, address, and telephone number.
Get the exact name of the organization and do some research by searching the name of the organization online. Bogus charities often use names that are very close to the names of legitimate and respected charities. All registered charities in Canada are overseen by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). The public can search the CRA database which can be found at (http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/chrts-gvng/lstngs/menu-eng.html). Call the charity directly. Find out if the organization is aware of the solicitation and has authorized the use of its name.
Never give out your personal, credit card or online account details over the phone unless you made the call to the charity and the phone number came from a trusted source.
Contractor / Disaster Relief Fraud
If you are approached by anyone claiming to be associated with your insurance company, a building inspector, or any other authority, ask to see his or her identification. If having repairs made to your property, ask for and check their references. The company can also be checked out with the Better Business Bureau and Ontario Ministry of Consumer and Business Services (http://www.sse.gov.on.ca/mcs/en/pages/default.aspx). Ask for a written estimate. Then get at least two more estimates from reputable businesses in your area.
Remember that good contractors ask a lot of questions so they can understand and plan out the project. Never rush or feel pressured into making a deal or signing a contract. Have any proposed contract checked over by someone trustworthy before signing it.
Home Water Filtration / Treatment Systems scam:
There are legitimate businesses that have great water purification products and services, but you have to be careful for the ones that offer services that are too good to be true. When you open your door to a salesperson, remember to ask for photo ID and get the name of the person and the business. Never share personal information (e.g., a utility bill). If you ask a salesperson to leave, they must leave right away. If you feel unsafe, call local police. (OPP: 1-888-310-1122)
Look at the company name on the salesperson’s business card and promotional material and see if it matches the company name on the proposed contract. Do not rely on a salesperson’s opinion that your water heater or filtration system is unsafe or should be replaced.
Local utility companies, municipalities, government agencies or regulatory organizations don’t send salespeople door-to-door. You do not have to sign a contract at that time.
If you or someone you know suspects they’ve been a victim of a fraud or online crime, contact your local police service, the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, report it to the OPP online at http://www.opp.ca/index.php?id=132 or through Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS) at https://www.tipsubmit.com/start.htm
On May 25, 2017, the Grenville County Crime Unit of the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) charged a woman, aged 33, from Edwardsburgh Township with Fraud over $5000.00, making forged documents.