If someone tells you they have a way to cheat the system and get you something cheaper than it costs anywhere else, alarm bells should start sounding.

Have you heard about families scammed by someone selling a discount all-inclusive travel vacation, only to find out it was a fraud? What about that used car lot, where the low price on a shiny older vehicle seems too good to be true?

The same type of scam has hit Canada’s auto insurance marketplace – and hit it quickly, leaving many unsuspecting drivers vulnerable and exposed to everything from fines, license suspensions and vehicle seizures to up to millions of dollars in personal liability lawsuits. This is more dangerous than your average fender-bender, and it is certainly not a risk worth taking to save a few hundred dollars in auto insurance premiums.

They say ‘you get what you pay for,’ but you get nothing when you become the victim of a so-called “unlicensed intermediary” trying to sell you auto insurance.

They advertise their “deals” through online classified websites like Craigslist, through word-of-mouth, informal networks, or sometimes through cultural associations where they prey upon newcomers to Canada, those with language barriers or a lack of familiarity with Canada’s insurance system.

These kinds of scams are skyrocketing, attracting the attention of insurance companies like Aviva Canada and law enforcement.

The fraudsters pretend to be licensed insurance brokers. Sometimes they call insurance companies and impersonate the customer being registered for insurance by providing false or fraudulent information. Other times, they provide unsuspecting drivers with counterfeit pink slips, taking cash payment in places like coffee shops or other public meeting spaces.

If you are the victim, your insurance may not have been set up accurately, or you may have no insurance at all.

If you drive without insurance, you could be charged with a criminal offence, possibly leading to first-time penalties including a fine of between $5,000 to $25,000, seizure of your vehicle for up to three months (while you pay storage costs), your license suspended for up to one year, and for a second conviction, fines doubled and the potential of a criminal conviction and jail time.

That’s why it is so important to always use a licensed and registered insurance broker to obtain insurance so that you have legitimate coverage in the case of a loss.

Aviva Canada wants drivers to protect themselves from these fraud artists.

Never purchase your auto insurance with cash. Never meet someone who claims to be selling insurance in a public meeting place, like a coffee shop.

Make sure you have verified all the information about your policy, including your address and your personal information, as accurate and truthful. Always make sure that the insurance company named on your insurance pink slip is aware that you are the policyholder.

At Aviva Canada, we believe that honest customers deserve the lowest premiums available. They shouldn’t be paying higher auto insurance rates to subsidize these fraudsters who cheat the system.

The stakes are high. Across Canada, insurance fraud costs consumers more than $1billion per year. Where does that money come from? Honest drivers.

If you really want to pay lower auto insurance premiums, help us expose fraudsters.

Report suspected fraud to Aviva Canada’s Fraud Information Centre, open 24/7, by calling 1-855-332-5255 or emailing anti-fraud_management@avivacanada.com. For more information visit us at https://www.avivacanada.com/personal-insurance/auto-insurance