With less than two weeks left in Fraud Prevention Month, the provincial government and Consumer Protection B.C. are kicking off their first annual Consumer Awareness Week, dedicating seven days to educating the public about consumer rights.
"We felt we (needed) to shine a light on what consumers' rights are in British Columbia law," said Manjit Bains, vice-president of corporate relations at Consumer Protection B.C.
From March 15 to 22, the Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection B.C. shared five tips a day under the theme of "Take Five." The theme was chosen, not only as a strategy to deliver tips, but as a way to signal to consumers to think before
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"It nicely jives with providing some key tips that can really resonate with consumers," she said. "The focus is reminding consumers to just step back and take some time before entering into that contract or transaction."
Day one's tips were the top five tips of all-time for consumers. These included trusting your gut, doing your homework and sticking to a budget.
"We're going to give some common sense kind of tips that I think everybody is already aware of, but sometimes we lose sight of because of our emotions," Bains said. "Remember, if an offer seems too good to be true, it often is."
Consumer Protection B.C. was founded in 2004. With an office in Burnaby - located at 4946 Canada Way, open from 8: 30 a.m. to 4: 30 p.m., Monday to Friday, the public can visit them in-person with any queries or concerns.
"We're going into our ninth year now, and we've been working very closely with consumers and businesses during that time," Bains said.
Consumer Protection B.C. receives about 15,000 calls each year from consumers and businesses looking for more information about their rights and obligations, she said.
The calls cover a variety of different consumer issues. From retail questions to questions about debt collectors and even time share vacation properties.
"The 15,000 calls are sort of all over the map, but it seems that consumers are starting to know where to go," she said.
Some 3,000 calls last year were concerning debt collectors harassing people, either for a debt owed by themselves or someone else.
Bains said there are ways to stop the calls, especially if the debt collector is calling to collect a debt that isn't your own.
"They can provide some information to the debter, and they have to stop," she said. "And if they don't, (consumers) can come to us, and we can take some enforcement action."
Consumer Protection B.C. will continue to share tips with the public until March 22. To access these tips, people can check out www.consumerprotectionbc.ca or follow @ConsumerProBC on Twitter.
Information on consumer rights and more can be accessed all year long at www.consumerprotectionbc.ca. email@example.com