Caution Ahead: Top Consumer Scams of 2012

February 20, 2013 1:09 am Published by Leave your thoughts

The Top 10 Consumer Scams of 2012

Well, mid-January is upon us and that can only mean one thing: it’s time to announce the Top Consumer Scams of 2012, an annual list created in partnership between Consumer Protection BC, the BBB, British Columbia Securities Commission, the Competition Bureau of Canada, the RCMP and the Vehicle Sales Authority.

This year, the list is themed “just in case a scam is around the corner,” showing how even the most convincing promise can turn out to be not exactly what it’s supposed to be. Here’s the link to the Top 10 Scams.

One of our Top Consumer Scams of 2012: computer virus fixing scheme
Each year our Inquiry Centre receives thousands of calls from consumers on a variety of topics.  In terms of scams, one that we got many calls about is that pesky computer virus fixing scheme. In this classic scam, you may receive a call from someone who claims that your computer has been infected by a virus. To gain your trust, the caller often identifies him or herself as an employee of Microsoft and offers to clean your computer using remote access (a troubleshooting tool where you give them full control of your computer). Once you give up control, the scam results in the fraudster having access to your personal, bank and/or credit card information – yikes!

Tips on how to avoid this top consumer scam of 2012: 
Know the signs. These computer scammers often try to gain your trust by telling you they’re from Microsoft – don’t believe them! In fact, Microsoft assures consumers that they never make unsolicited calls to you regarding computer security or software fixes.

Keep your personal information safe. Be cautious about giving out your credit card information, especially over the phone to unsolicited callers. Never give control of your computer to a third-party unless you can verify that they are exactly who they say they are.

Be cautious at home – and at work. These scammers have also been known to target businesses, and sometimes employees are more inclined to believe the caller is trying to help. If you’re unsure if the call is legit, refer it to your IT department or tell them you’ll return their call at a later date.

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