OSC urges consumers to "check before you invest"

    Take the time to research investments this RRSP season

    TORONTO, Jan. 16 /CNW/ - To kick-start a busy investing season, the
Ontario Securities Commission (OSC) has re-launched "Check Before You Invest,"
a campaign encouraging consumers to pay closer attention to their investments
and avoid fraud.
    "Most consumers make their major financial decisions for the year during
RRSP season, so this is a crucial time to get all the information you need
before committing to an investment," said OSC Vice-Chair Lawrence Ritchie.
"Being an informed investor is one of the best ways to protect your money, and
our resources can help you ask the right questions before you invest."
    From January through March, the OSC will reach out to consumers through
community presentations, trade show exhibits, transit and radio ads and public
service announcements in select communities throughout Ontario. Consumers are
encouraged to visit www.checkbeforeyouinvest.ca to read free, educational
guides on investing topics and to learn about common types of investment scams
and their warning signs.
    In addition, the OSC offers these tips to help consumers protect their

    1. Don't make investment decisions in a hurry.

    As the RRSP deadline approaches, you may feel pressured to make investment
decisions quickly. Don't be taken in by limited-time offers that look like a
great deal, or promises of tax advantages. Take the time to make sure an
investment is suitable for your risk tolerance and financial situation.

    2. Keep track of your investments.

    After you've invested, monitor your progress by reading your financial
statements carefully. If you work with an adviser, play an active role in the
process and ask lots of questions to understand how your investments work.

    3. Be wary of unsolicited investment offers.

    Most fraudulent investment offers are made though unsolicited phone calls
or e-mails. If strangers approach you to invest, consider that they don't know
your financial situation or risk tolerance. They may not have your best
interests in mind.

    4. Know who you're dealing with.

    Scam artists go to great lengths to make a business seem legitimate, such
as professional-looking websites and marketing materials, believable sales
pitches and friendly 'sales representatives'. In many cases, you can avoid a
scam by making sure that the person or company offering an investment is
properly qualified and registered. Contact the OSC to check registration and
find out whether a person or company has a history of disciplinary action.

    5. If you suspect a scam, report it.

    Recent studies show that 25% of investment fraud victims are defrauded
again. If you suspect you've lost money to a scam, reporting it can help stop
the cycle and prevent others from becoming victims. To report a suspected
investment fraud, contact the OSC toll-free at 1-877-785-1555 or

    The OSC first ran its "Check before you invest" campaign from October
2006 until the end of March 2007, resulting in a 10% increase in website
visits over the previous year. During that time, OSC staff representatives
spoke face-to-face with 11,872 consumers throughout Ontario through trade show
exhibits and community presentations.

    As Ontario's securities markets regulator, the Ontario Securities
Commission (OSC) works to ensure that those markets are fair and efficient,
and that investors are protected from improper or fraudulent practices. As
part of this mandate, the OSC provides free resources to help Ontarians make
informed investment decisions and protect themselves from fraud.

For further information:

For further information: For Media Inquiries: Wendy Dey, Director,
Communications & Public Affairs, (416) 593-8120; Laurie Gillett, Manager,
Public Affairs, (416) 595-8913; Carolyn Shaw-Rimmington, Assistant Manager,
Public Affairs, (416) 593-2361; For Investor Inquiries: OSC Contact Centre,
(416) 593-8314, 1-877-785-1555 (Toll Free)

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