To help protect yourself from scam artists, watch out for these warning signs. If you answer ‘No’ to any of the questions below, stop! You may be the target of a scam.
Read more on how to Report Fraud.
Scam Artists like to blend in: Whether your first contact is over the phone, by email or in person, scam artists take great pains to look and sound familiar. They want to become friends with you and gain your trust. They will look for things you may have in common, such as family heritage or a shared interest, to show you that they’re just like you.
Ask yourself: Can you verify the offer with a credible source?
If you receive an unsolicited offer for products, services or an investment opportunity, get a second opinion from a registered financial adviser, lawyer or accountant, or call the FCNB for assistance.
Scam Artists often push unknown or complicated investment products: There are lots of different financial products to choose from and some are very complicated. It’s easy to get overwhelmed or confused when trying to pick the ones that are right for you. Many people look to a financial professional for guidance. Scam artists know this and will offer to take full responsibility for your decisions and your money. Don’t let them! Get all the facts and think things through for yourself. Then, if you decide you need some extra guidance, be sure you’re dealing with a registered professional.
Ask yourself: Is the firm and the person you are dealing with registered or licensed?
Individuals and firms working in securities, mortgages, insurance, funeral services, and door-to-door sales, must be registered or licenced with FCNB. In certain circumstances there may be an exemption, but you should always check first. Check here: Licensing and Registration rules or call us at 1-866-933-2222.
Scam Artists dress for success: Even though scam artists want you to believe that they are “just like you,” they’ll work very hard to come across as smooth, professional and successful. They may dress like they are wealthy or work out of impressive looking offices. Your best bet is to look beyond the surface and do some serious investigating before you part with your money.
Ask yourself: Is the opportunity based on facts?
If the deal is based on “hot tips” or “insider info”, watch out. The people pitching these deals often have hidden motives.
Scam Artists play to your fears: Skilled scam artists can bring out our worst traits, including greed, fear, and insecurity. They may play on your fears of not being able to keep up with your friends financially, or not having enough money for things like your retirement or a child’s education. Con artists will try to make you feel inadequate or even stupid if you don’t believe them or ask too many questions. If you’re feeling pressured or made to feel bad about asking questions, then you probably shouldn’t be working with this person.
Ask yourself: Do you understand how the investment, product or service works?
Never sign a contract or purchase an investment unless you fully understand what you are signing. Once you sign the contract you have legal obligations.
Scam Artists focus on the positive: To hear a scam artist explain a deal, it probably sounds too good to be true. Trust your instinct and inner voice if you hear claims like these: “Your return is guaranteed. Or “There’s no way you can lose money.” Be especially careful if the salesperson downplays or denies any downsides or risk. Watch out if they hesitate to answer questions or if they won’t provide you with written information.
Ask yourself: Is the risk you are taking reasonable for the expected return?
In general, returns on low-risk investments are in the range of current GIC rates offered by banks. If the expected return is higher than these rates, you are taking a greater risk with your money. Make sure you understand and can afford the amount of risk you’re taking on.
Scam Artists pressure you to act fast: Never invest in anything based only on recommendations or testimonials from anyone, even if you’re friends with them! Don’t be blinded by the enthusiasm or charisma of a scam artist. A healthy dose of scepticism goes a long way.
Ask yourself: Have you had enough time to make a decision?
Take your time making all financial decisions and never sign documents you have not read carefully.
Scam Artists are fair-weather friends: Before you hand over your money, scam artists are very friendly. They take a personal interest in you, out of the blue. They call back when they promise they will and each time you talk they tell you even more great things about the investment. But once you have invested your money, contacts with the scam artists slow down and eventually stops altogether. By then, the scam artist is long gone with your money. And if you want to try and get your money out of the investment or account, they’ll have all kinds of excuses as to why you can’t yet.
Remember to report all suspicious activity.