Corporate Canada Joins Fraud Prevention Forum to Raise Public Awareness and Stop Fraud

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TORONTO, February 1, 2005 – Millions of Canadians will be better educated on how to protect themselves from fraud thanks to February’s “Fraud Awareness Month” campaign launched today. Over the course of the month, more than 35 private and public sector organizations will be reaching out to Canadians where they live, work and shop in an effort to educate Canadians and eliminate fraud.

Building on the “Recognize it. Report it. Stop it.” campaign, these organizations have committed to airing public service announcements on both radio and television; distributing approximately 30 million fliers, posters and tip cards; buying newspaper ads; and, posting web banners as well as other activities all in the name of fraud education and prevention.

“I am really pleased to see so many private sector organizations join in to help take action against fraud in an international campaign that will benefit all Canadians,” said the Honourable David L. Emerson, Minister of Industry. “Their support is truly overwhelming and we intend to build on these relationships in the future until our message has reached each and every Canadian.”

“Contrary to popular belief this is not a crime that affects only one vulnerable segment in our society. We know that every Canadian is at risk of becoming a victim regardless of education, income or age. This is why our campaign is focused on awareness and targets all Canadians,” said Sheridan Scott, Commissioner of the Competition Bureau, which chairs the Fraud Prevention Forum. “The increase in our partnership base will help us to reach more consumers, educate more potential victims, and stop crimes before they are committed.”

According to the Federal Department of Justice, “telemarketing fraud has become one of the most pervasive and problematic forms of white-collar crime in Canada and the United States.” The Canadian Council of Better Business Bureaus estimates that fraud and business scams are taking billions of dollars out of Canada’s real economy each year.

“This initiative is an excellent example of what we can do collectively. In addition to our constant vigilance and significant investment, we need to rally Canadians to help put would-be fraudsters out of business,” said Derek Fry, President, Visa Canada. “With informed and committed Canadians on the team, our fraud fighting force becomes even more formidable.”

“The RCMP works closely with many partners nationally and internationally to combat organized crime in all of its facets, including consumer fraud. Fraudulent schemes are fluid and transitory in nature,” said Tim Killam, RCMP Assistant Commissioner, Federal Services. “If we are to be successful in ensuring safe homes and safe communities, our approach must be fully integrated and borderless. Initiatives such as this which link law enforcement, businesses and the public are critical if we are to reduce the serious impact of fraudulent scams globally.”

This is the largest campaign of its type in Canada and is being supported by the International Consumer Protection and Enforcement Network (ICPEN) representing 30 nations. These countries have agreed to participate in the awareness campaign through their local enforcement bodies. In particular, ICPEN is planning an Internet sweep during the fourth week of February, focusing on Internet-based scams.

“Since last year’s Recognize it. Report it. Stop it. campaign, phone calls to PhoneBusters have increased dramatically,” said Rick Kotwa, Director of Anti-Rackets, Ontario Provincial Police. “There are still a great number of these crimes that go unreported. We need to reach these victims and give them the information they need to recognize fraud, report it and ultimately stop it.”

PhoneBusters is the national anti-fraud call centre initiative of the Ontario Provincial Police and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Canadians can call PhoneBusters to report incidence of telemarketing fraud, advanced fee fraud and identity theft or to learn more about how to protect themselves from fraud.

Canadians can also report fraud on-line through Reporting Economic Crime Online (RECOL) at www.recol.ca. RECOL is an RCMP initiative that involves an integrated partnership between international, federal and provincial law enforcement agencies and the private sector.

The Fraud Prevention Forum, chaired by the Competition Bureau, is a concerned group of private sector firms, consumers and volunteer groups, government agencies and law enforcement organizations, who are committed to fighting fraud aimed at consumers and businesses. Its mandate is to prevent Canadians from becoming victims of fraud through awareness and education, as well as to increase reporting when it occurs.