Common scams and deceptive marketing practices and how to avoid them

These short articles, originally issued by the Bureau as consumer and business alerts, contain information on how you can avoid falling victim to deceptive marketing practices and scams.

Common scams and deceptive practices and how to avoid them
DateSubjectArticleHidden Search Terms
March 2, 2022Fake reviewsFive-star fake outcustomers, online, consumer reviews
March 10, 2017Snow removal agreementsSnow removal businesses: Avoid a flurry of problems, steer clear of illegal agreementsprice, price fixing, agreement, territory, customers, clientele, discussion, collusion, snow, plowing, snow removal
March 15, 2021Scams targeted at businessesTaking care of businessscam, fraud, fraudsters, consumers
March 1, 2021Non-delivery scamsNon-delivery scams: When nothing comes to those who waitshopping online, fraud, online marketplace, consumers
March 11, 2020Trapped subscriptionsSubscription traps: “no-strings attached” trial offers could leave you with your hands tiedshopping online, fraud, online marketplace, consumers
November 29, 2019Third-party sellersCheck Out the Seller Before You Checkoutshopping online, fraud, online marketplace, third-party sellers, shopping surprises
November 7, 2017Appliance warranties Seven questions you should ask before buying new appliancesfridge, refrigerator, washer, dryer, stove, range, warranty, guarantee, repair, appliances, manufacturer
February 27, 2019Bamboo fabricDon't be bamboozled: The real deal with "bamboo fabric"bamboo, fabric, environment, chemicals, false, deceptive, advertising
April 17, 2018Business contracts What you don't know about contracts could hurt your businessbusiness, automatic renewal clause, price escalation clause, exclusivity clause, terms and conditions, fine print, quote
April 25, 2018Business directories Business directories: Double-check before writing a chequedirectory, spam, email, fax, telemarketing
June 21, 2017CEO impersonation Show them who's the boss—shut down the fake CEO scamletter, fake CEO, wire transfer, boss, employee, company
September 4, 2018Charity scams Happy International Day of Charity: Give with confidencecharity, fake charity, charities, donating, donate, donations, giving
November 21, 2016Cheap luxury items Highend online shopping at "bargain basement" pricesbargain, knock-offs, designer, brand names, fashion, counterfeit, fake, purses, watches, clothes, shoes
May 12, 2017Computer virus/repair scams Hang up on tech experts claiming your computer has a virus; it's a scamWindows, computers, computer, tech, tech support, IT, viruses, virus, repair
March 19, 2018Contests and prizes A special prize just for you? Don't be fooled into believing you are a sweepstakes winner letter, official, pre-addressed reply, contest, prize, scam, win, winner, sweepstakes
February 15, 2018Credit card debt relief servicesDebt relief promises: Tips for choosing a debt relief service that keeps its word bankruptcy, creditors, credit card, guarantee, debts, loans, counsellor, debt relief, debt services
October 29, 2018 CryptocurrencyTales from the cryptocurrency investment ghouls, goblins and ghostscryptocurrency, bitcoin, pyramid scheme, investments, get rich quick, celebrity, endorsements, testimonials
January 23, 2017Environmental claims It's not easy being green. Businesses must back up their wordsEnvironment, green, green product, eco-friendly, safe, organic, biodegradable
August 29, 2019Fake government websitesGovernment websites: Spot the legitimate among the fakesscam, scam website, federal, government, spoof website, official, deceptive practices, google, search
May 10, 2017Flowers online Avoid the wrong kind of surprise this Mother's Dayflowers, bouquet, arrangement, online shopping, gift
September 20, 2017Free trial offersFree trial that turns out to be a monthly subscription: It's a trapmonthly fees, fee, credit card, subscription, pop-up surveys, charges, continuity scam
March 8, 2016Free trial offersSubscription traps: “no-strings attached” trial offers could leave you with your hands tiedsubscription, trap, online offer, free trial, fees, charges, monthly, limited time, unwanted deliveries
March 18, 2016Government grants, loans, and benefits Don't trust companies that promise government grants and loansgovernment, application, approval, official
March 30, 2016Immigration scams Scammers reaching new lows as they focus their efforts on defrauding immigrants and refugeesrefugee, asylum, threatening, government, government official, police, deportation, arrest, fake programs, fraud
March 7, 2017Intellectual property Beware of emails and letters demanding payment to protect your intellectual property rightsCanadian Intellectual Property Office, CIPO, solicitation, copyright, trademark, rights, lawyer
March 31, 2016Investment scams Beware the green gremlin of investment fraudhigh-pressure sales, Ontario Securities Commission, OSC, fraudulent, returns, real estate, stock
March 14, 2017Investment scams Don't invest in fraud: Know how to spot investment scamsfraud, risk, insider information, stocks, stock market, bonds, returns, hot tip, insider information, pressure tactic
December 15, 2017iTunes gift card as payments Fill your library, not their walletsgovernment, CRA, taxes, payment, extortion, gift card, iTunes, back taxes, telemarketing
July 9, 2018Leather furniture Leather furniture… True or faux?
Cheat sheet: types of “leather” in furniture
full grain, top grain, bonded leather, faux leather, vegan leather
July 2, 2019Loyalty programs Customer loyalty programs: What is your brand loyalty worth?reward, rewards, hidden, loyalty, loyal, free, frequent, incentives, incentive, VIP, points, cash back, insider, perks
August 1, 2017Movers and moving The next time you move, dodge the "rogue movers" who take your belongings hostagebelongings, move, moving, mover, house, home, apartment, surprise fees, certification, Canada Anti-Fraud Centre, Better Business Bureau, BBB
February 14, 2019Online dating websitesOnline dating: Know what you're signing up fordeceptive, terms, conditions, free, trial, membership, advertising
February 10, 2017 Online dating websites Know the price of lovedating, online profile, hidden fees, fake profile, match
November 21, 2018Cancelled discountBargain hunting season could turn into a wild goose chasebait and switch, false, advertising, scam, online, discounts, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, basket, checkout, online shopping, cancel, cancellation
July 13, 2017Online price isn’t in Canadian dollarsMind the "$": Is that price in Canadian or American dollars?exchange rate, currency, dollars, shopping, online shopping
October 31, 2017Psychics Unexpected letters from a psychic: All signs point to fraudclairvoyant, fortune teller, elderly, ESP
June 27, 2018Pyramid schemes Becoming your own boss: Yes, but not at any costmembership fees, financial, entrepreneur, multi-level marketing, business owner, work from home
May 3, 2016Real estate seminars Don't flip for "free" real estate investment seminarsrisk, debt, quick money, quick profit, secret, strategies, testimonials
August 16, 2018Rental accommodations Rental scam: No room for errorbargain price, student, university, college, Kijiji, Facebook, amenities, deposit, agreement, property, rent, picture
December 11, 2018Smart toysBe smart with smart toys: Know when to pull the plugnetwork, Wi-Fi, smart plug, toy, toys, app, apps, ads, connected
July 26, 2017Snow removal agreementsSummer is still in full swing, but winter is just a season awaycontracts, season, credentials, subcontracting, clause, snow, plowing, plow
March 10, 2017Snow removal agreementsSnow removal businesses: Avoid a flurry of problems, steer clear of illegal agreementsprice-fixing, price, agreement, territory, customers, discussion, collusion, plowing, plow
August 8, 2016Sports streaming packages Foul play: Sports streaming packages' fine print can hide true terms and conditionshockey, football, gold, basketball, baseball, advertising, marketing, TV, entertainment, sports
May 24, 2018Survey scams Pop-up surveys can be a) scams b) traps c) costly?survey, free product, clickbait, shipping fee, online survey
May 16, 2019Telecom service agreementsTelecom service agreements: That "forever" price may only be a "for now" priceCell, phone, phones, pricing, contract, deceptive, agreement, false, mobile, cooling, Internet, television, terms of service, switching
December 8, 2016 Travel feesTraveling for the Holidays? Don't get wrapped up in surprise feespackage deal, tickets, hotel, accommodation, airline, resort fee, restrictions, blackout
July 18, 2016Water heater and HVAC sales Competition Bureau warns consumers about deceptive door-to-door sales of water heaters and HVAC systemswater heater, heating, ventilation, air conditioning, contract, terms and conditions, door to door, salesman
April 18, 2016Water heater contracts Home buyers surprised at high fees to exit water heater rental contractshomebuyer, rental contract, exit fee, fees, door-to-door sales
January 15, 2018 Weightloss scamsExperiencing the post-holiday weight blues? Be careful! Many diets or fat-burning products may only lighten your walletnew year, calories, fat, patches, creams, lotions, wraps, body belts, exercise, dieting, unhealthy, supplements, claims, results, doctor, deceptive advertising