An Ipsos Reid survey has found that 20 percent of Canadians have found unauthorized charges on their credit cards as a result of accepting an offer online or on the phone. Consumers need to read their credit card statements carefully to check for deceptive charges, experts say.
The survey also found that 78 per cent of Canadians are aware of the existence of deceptive or fraudulent marketing practices, but many fail to act on that knowledge.
The survey was commissioned by the credit card company, Visa.
“Deceptive marketing practices come in many forms,” said Gord Jamieson, the head of payment system risk for Visa.
“Consumers need to be conscious that there may be fraudsters out there and they should think twice before accepting an offer that sounds too good to be true.”
A recent investigation by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission underscores how easily consumers can be bilked.
Central Coast Nutraceuticals was shut down by authorities after bilking consumers of more than $100 million through several deceptive tactics used to sell an acai berry supplement and colon cleanser.
The company used false endorsements from TV personalities Rachael Ray and Oprah Winfrey to give its website credibility, and a so-called free offer to lure consumers into ordering products. The company gained credit card numbers by telling consumers they would have to pay shipping on the free products.
“Customers can protect themselves by learning to recognize fraud and familiarizing themselves with some simple tips,” said Staff Sgt. Paul Proulx of the Canadian Anti-Fraud Call Centre.
“Simple steps like reading and understanding the merchant terms and conditions and carefully reviewing your credit card statement each month can guard consumers from deceptive marketing scams,” Proulx said.
Visa says it has enhanced its monitoring program to help spot deceptive marketers.
The survey of 1,013 Canadians was conducted by Ipsos Reid between July 8 and July 15. The margin of error is plus or minus 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.