| Feb 15, 2007

Legalese - February 15, 2007

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Legalese - February 15, 2007 Information for Consumers by Peter Graham, Lawyer

Have you ever had a problem with a business which does not deliver the service or goods you have ordered in a satisfactory manner? What are your options? The Consumer Protection Branch of the Ontario Ministry of Government Services can help.

A working group in the Consumer Protection Branch has coordinated the distribution of information to help people who are experiencing difficulty in resolving issues with businesses such as car repairs, high-pressure door-to-door sales and home repair contractors.

Visit the Branch’s web site at www.ontario.ca/consumerprotection. On the site you will find information on such consumer topics as gift cards, buying merchandise, memberships and services, motor vehicles, personal finance, scams and identity theft. It also sets out what one should do before complaining to the Ministry. For those who do not have access to the internet information may be obtained by calling 1-866-351-5655.


The Consumer Protection Branch has also prepared articles on various consumer topics. An example of a particularly timely topic is Telemarketing fraud – It isn’t who you think it is. The text of the article follows:

“You may think it could never happen to you – you’d never fall for a pitch from a telemarketing scam. But according to research, fraud victims are likely to be educated, informed, relatively affluent and involved in their communities.

Scam artists gain your trust using professional marketing materials and well-crafted telephone scripts. Their friendly tone puts you at ease. Their answers to your questions are believable – but they’ll say anything to get your money. They easily impersonate legitimate businesses, charities and causes. They’ll use your own emotions against you.

‘People often don’t recognize a fraudulent telemarketing pitch when they first hear it,’ says Chris Ferguson, director of Ontario’s Consumer Protection Branch. ‘But if you take a moment to think about the offer or ask for written information or valid references you can check out, you can do a lot to protect yourself.’

Smart consumers can protect themselves against telemarketing fraud by learning to recognize it:

The caller is more excited than you are.

The caller demands an immediate response, but refuses to provide you anything in writing.

You’re asked to pay a fee or buy a product or provide personal or financial information before you can collect a prize.

The caller asks you to pay by wire service or courier.

The price for the goods or services is much lower than you would expect to pay on the open market.

You are offered a large payment or reward for allowing your bank account to be used for transferring money.

If you suspect that you’ve been the target of a scam, report it. For information about telemarketing fraud and your rights under the Consumer Protection Act go to www.mgs.gov.on.ca or call 1-866-351-5655.”

If you are experiencing consumer problems or would like more information check the Consumer Protection Branch data base or give us a call at the legal clinic.

Legalese is a column of general information and opinion on legal topics by the lawyers of Rural Legal Services, Box 359, Sharbot Lake, ON, K0H2P0, 613-279-3252, or 1-888-777-8916. This column is not intended to provide legal advice. You should contact a lawyer to determine your legal rights and obligations.

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