Government unveils three new tools to keep Albertans from getting scammed
Service Alberta says it receives approximately 3,000 consumer complaint calls each year. (File)
CALGARY -- The provincial government has announced three new tools aimed at protecting Albertans from dishonest businesses, scams and fraud.
Through a $20-million investment in the United Conservative Party's 2019 budget, Service Alberta is doing more to inform residents about consumer protection and enforcement activities and introduce new ways to protect consumers.
Among the new tools is a Business Enforcement Search Tool, which provides a window into the enforcement history of a particular business, a Consumer Alerts Program, an online tool to provide warnings about dishonest businesses and the Report a Rip-off tip line, an easy way for Albertans to make a report to Service Alberta.
"Giving Albertans more tools to search businesses online to see if any enforcement actions have been taken against them, means giving people peace of mind about the businesses they choose to support. At the end of the day, this means confident consumers and responsible businesses," said Nate Glubish, minister of Service Alberta, in a release.
The Better Business Bureau says the additional protections are a "step in the right direction."
"These resources add to the services that have been provided by the Better Business Bureau where consumers can search businesses and get profile of their complaint history and reviews. This has proved useful for consumers over the years and with added resources by Service Alberta, we are definitely moving to a more ethical marketplace where sellers are held accountable and consumers can be protected from unethical businesses," says Shawna-Kay Thomas with the Better Business Bureau serving Southern Alberta & East Kootenay in an email to CTV News.
Thomas adds that after consumer use these resources, they can better make informed decisions on who they do business with.
Service Alberta says while the new tools offer similar reporting features to the BBB's Scam Tracker, they are able to undertake enforcement against any businesses or individuals found to be violating the rules.
According to statistics from the province, Service Alberta receives about 3,000 consumer complaint calls each year.
The Consumer Investigations Unit closed 840 cases between in the 2018-19 fiscal year and recovered more than $1 million for consumers.
The ministry also issued $8,750 in fines, 22 director's orders, four warnings and took 19 licensing actions during the same period.
Further details about the tools can be found online.
The Report a Rip-off tip line can be reached by calling 1-877-427-4088.