So, you got scammed and now it’s too late. You feel angry and embarrassed and you wish you had trusted that gut feeling.
What can you do now?
Two words: report it.
The steps you need to take mostly depend on the type of fraud and on the nature of the scam.
This is how the Royal Canadian Mounted Police sums it up:
If you have not lost any money and have not provided personal or financial information (relating to a fraud or scam), and you simply want to inform the appropriate organizations, report it to the Canadian Anti-fraud Centre by calling 1-888-495-8501.
If you received a fraudulent e-mail soliciting personal or financial information (phishing scam), you should also advise the financial institution or other agency whose name was used.
If you are a victim of fraud or if you unwittingly provided personal or financial information (identity fraud), follow the steps in our Victim Assistance Guide.
If you are a victim of fraud and it is not related to identity fraud, contact the police service of jurisdiction in your area.
For credit card fraud and identity theft, you need to act fast and to contact the police as well as relevant institutions.
- The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada publishes a fact sheet for those victims of identity theft.
- The RCMP also has a handy step-by-step information sheet on how to report and deal with identity theft.
- A fact sheet about Counterfeiting and Credit Card Fraud is available on the same website.
- The Financial Consumer Agency of Canada has a series of tip sheets about debit and credit card fraud.
- A comprehensive Victim Guide (pdf doc) is also available from the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.
Internet fraud is probably the hardest to report. Not only victims feel embarrassed but there is a common misconception that Internet frauds are not prosecuted and certainly not taken as seriously that scams and frauds that happen in real life.
The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre does encourage victims to report a fraud by calling 1-888-495-8501 (toll-free number) or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. The U.S.A has similar crime reporting resources on the Department of Justice website.
Have you ever heard of scam baiting? These communities scam back scammers by pretending to “bait” to a scam. They waste scammers’ time and resources and sometimes expose them publically. Famous scam baiter websites include 419baiter and 419eater… have a good laugh but don’t try this at home (or at least, be careful if you do!).
For consumer and employment scams, it’s always better to prevent fraud in the first place. The Better Business Bureau or the Canadian BBB are good places to start. These organizations focus on consumer protection and gather information received about businesses. Its neutrality is sometimes disputed but you can see a business or a charity rating easily. Consumers can also file a complaint online.
Finally, a number of consumer websites such as Ripoff Report or the popular Scam message board encourage people to report bad business practices and scams. While the impact of such websites isn’t known, at least complaints may show up in search results and warn other potential victims.
The How to… Avoid Fraud series is now completed! Next week, a new ten-post series will start: Ten More Immigrants, Ten More Interviews. See you next Saturday for the first interview!