Québec City – The Autorité des marchés financiers (AMF) and the Office de la protection du consommateur (OPC) wish to warn the public about fraudulent money lenders who are using social media to recruit “clients.” They target people with promises of personal, car or mortgage loans at very attractive rates in order to swindle them out of thousands of dollars in fees, payable in advance via bank transfer. In the process, they collect highly sensitive personal information, such as victims’ banking information.
The fraudsters claim to be affiliated with recognized financial institutions, but the company name they use often is not a name registered in Québec. Their websites may be hosted outside Québec. Of course, these organizations have neither a certificate from the AMF nor a permit from the OPC.
How to protect yourself
Consumers should never apply for a loan from a person or organization without first doing some research. Except for major financial institutions, companies offering loans must have an OPC-issued permit, and mortgage brokerage firms must have an AMF-issued certificate. Whether a loan is provided by a lender or a broker, no fees should ever have to be paid in advance. Most importantly, regardless of the situation, you should never make a bank transfer to companies or individuals unless you are absolutely certain that they are honest.
Many people are facing increased financial difficulties owing to the COVID-19 pandemic and are therefore vulnerable to fraudsters offering financing or advice to help them with debt problems. The AMF and the OPC urge consumers to exercise a high degree of caution and remind them that consumer associations, which are grouped together on the toutbiencalcule.ca site, may offer free, confidential advisory services to people experiencing problems with their personal finances.
Consumers who know of companies that illegally offer credit may report them to the AMF or the OPC. Any company that commits fraud must be reported to the police or the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.
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Sylvain Théberge: 514-940-2176
Québec City: 418-525-0337
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