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March 20, 2022

Beware of testimonial and subscription scams

If it sounds too good to be true -- it probably is.

The Competition Bureau wants consumers to be aware of scams as part of its 2 Good 2 Be True campaign during Fraud Prevention Month in March.

Among the various scams out there, the Competition Bureau wants consumers to recognize false online testimonials and subscription traps on mobile devices.

How many times have you checked out reviews about hotels, restaurants or products before you have put your money on the table? These comments may not very well have been posted by a happy customer. In fact, the biased testimonials may have been posted by an employee or associate of the company posing as a satisfied customer.

John Pecman, Interim Commissioner of Competition, explains, "Consumers and businesses often rely on reviews scrutinizing a product or service when making purchasing decisions.

"Online testimonials that appear to be from unbiased individuals but are actually paid for, malicious or fraudulent can mislead consumers and businesses."

Some warning signs to watch for include if the review seems overly positive with no downside; if there are multiple reviews written in the same tone and vocabulary; and if the person posting has a verifiable identity.

Another scam is subscription traps. Often people sign up for magazines or other subscriptions that they believe are free until they receive a bill requesting payment or a credit card statement showing that the money has been taken from their account. 

"Subscription traps are deceptive techniques designed to trick consumers and businesses into registering for recurring fees for goods or services," says Lisa Campbell, Deputy Commissioner, noting that the subscription traps could include inferring that a product or service is free when there are in fact charges.

To avoid falling into a subscription trap it is important to carefully read all the terms and conditions; ensure the company/individual is reputable and can be trusted; check for any hidden costs; monitor your bank and credit card statements and report any suspicious transactions.

Consumers and businesses should be aware about the many fraudulent activities out there and report their experiences to the proper authorities.

You can follow what the bureau and its partners have to say about scams and fraud prevention on Twitter, with the username @CompBureau and use the hashtag #2Good2BTrue.

By Donna Donaldson, MSN Money

Have you ever encountered false online testimonials or fallen into a subscription trap?





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