If You've Been Scammed
|This information applies to British Columbia, Canada. Last reviewed for legal accuracy by People's Law School in March 2017.|
If you think you’ve been the victim of a scam or identity theft, here are steps to take to prevent further problems.
Step 1. Stop communicating with the scammer
Immediately stop all communication with the person or company involved in the scam.
Step 2. Gather any information you have
Gather any records you have relating to the scam - any emails or other communication with the scammer, banking statements, contracts, and marketing materials used for the scam (such as brochures or online ads).
Make a list of any money or information that may be lost or stolen.
Leave room on your list for steps you take going forward. As you contact authorities, financial institutions, and other agencies, keep track of their contact details and any information you learn. This will help clear your name and re-establish your credit.
Step 3. If a credit card or bank account is involved, notify your financial institutions
If you think someone has used your credit card or accessed your bank account, immediately notify your financial institutions. Cancel any credit cards that are affected. Close or put a hold on any affected accounts.
Step 4. If any identification is missing, cancel it
If any government-issued identification was lost or stolen, such as a driver’s licence or passport, contact the agency issuing the document. Explain what happened, and find out how to get replacement documents.
Step 5. If any mail is missing, contact Canada Post
If you think your mail is being stolen or redirected, contact Canada Post’s customer service department at 1-866-607-6301 or www.canadapost.ca.
Step 6. Protect your devices
If you used your computer or cellphone to communicate with a scam operator, or your device was infected by a scam, take your device to a professional to have it checked. Make sure you have up-to-date software to prevent spam, viruses, and spyware.
Step 7. Report the incident to the police
If you suffered a loss because of a scam, report the incident to your local police department. Ask the police for a report number and record it. Include the police report number in all correspondence you have relating to the incident.
Step 8. Contact the credit reporting agencies
Contact the credit reporting agencies Equifax and TransUnion to let them know of the scam or identity theft. These are the two main agencies in Canada that prepare credit reports.
- Equifax: 1-800-465-7166 (toll-free) or www.equifax.ca
- TransUnion: 1-800-663-9980 (toll-free) or www.transunion.ca
Discuss with the credit reporting agencies whether to have a "fraud alert" placed on your file. A fraud alert means that businesses or banks will call you before opening any new accounts or changing your existing accounts.
Ask each credit reporting agency to send you a copy of your credit report. The report may reveal debts charged in your name.
Step 9. Report the incident to consumer agencies
Report the incident to the agencies that help protect consumers. See the "Where to Get Help" section for contact details.
- If you are the victim of a scam or identity theft, report it to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre. This federal agency doesn't conduct investigations but it does collect information about fraud and identity theft, which can help protect others from being scammed.
- Report a scam to the Better Business Bureau's Scam Tracker, or complain about a business or charity by filing a complaint with the BBB.
- If you’ve been tricked into signing a contract or buying a product or service, report the incident to Consumer Protection BC.
Step 10. Consider legal action
You can consider taking legal action against those involved in the scam or fraud. If you don't have a lawyer, see the options for free or low cost legal help in the "Where to Get Help" section.
If you have been the victim of a scam or identity theft, there are agencies you can contact for support and advice:
- VictimLink BC is a toll-free 24/7 information and support line for victims of crime.
- The Credit Counselling Society provides support for people struggling with debt, as well as counselling to help people manage money better.
See the "Where to Get Help" section for contact details.
|Scams to Avoid © People's Law School is, except for the images, licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International Licence.|