Calgary, AB,

Buyers beware: fraud prevention starts with fraud awareness

The City of Calgary together with The Calgary Police Service (CPS) is reminding Calgarians of the importance of recognizing and reporting fraud.

Cold weather brings an increase in the number of businesses offering furnace inspections, snow removal services, energy efficiency assessments and other winter housekeeping services over the phone, door-to-door or in advertisements. Consumers need to be vigilant in checking the legitimacy of the business by taking a few easy steps.

“Being aware of fraud is the first step towards preventing it,” says Kent Pallister, chief licensing inspector at The City of Calgary. “There are over 12,000 licensed contractors in the city who provide excellent services for Calgarians, but it’s the time of year when we see an increase in unlicensed services and consumer concerns.”

Businesses licensed by The City have had their qualifications validated and meet the necessary standards to operate in Calgary. If there is a concern with a licensed business, The City is able to respond quickly and efficiently.

While businesses of all types may use high-pressured sales tactics, or offer on-the-spot deals to incite citizens to act urgently, being a wise consumer means taking the time to make the right choice.

“Don’t feel pressured to make a decision or sign a contract because someone is at your door or on the phone,” says Pallister. “Take a few minutes to do your due diligence: call 311 to make sure a company is licensed, ask for references and get another quote to compare.”

When dealing with a business, CPS suggests you take your time to make sure you are dealing with a reliable company and be cautious when making upfront deposits. If you’ve lost money to a scammer, it should be reported to police by calling the non-emergency line at 403-266-1234.

“If something seems too good to be true, it probably is,” says CPS Staff Sergeant Cory Dayley. “A reputable company will give you time to confirm and validate the information they’ve provided so you can make an informed decision with your money.”