There is no shame in being a victim of fraud. It happens to everyone, even those who are vigilant or consider themselves financially savvy. because you are not alone, fraudsters are slick and sophisticated. They’re also highly motivated to get their hands on your personal information for their financial or other gain. If you do fall victim to fraudsters, then time is of the essence.
“If you have been the victim of financial fraud, it is important that you act quickly in order to mitigate the damage. It’s natural to be upset, feel vulnerable or even embarrassed. But know that by taking action swiftly, you’re no longer a victim, but are fighting back against the fraudsters,” says Jeff Schwartz, Executive Director, Consolidated Credit Counseling Services of Canada .
“Not only does fighting back against fraudsters help protect you, it can help others avoid experiencing fraud as well,” says Schwartz.
Have you been a victim of fraud? Here are some points to consider:
How do I know if I’ve been a victim?
There are a few sure signs that you’ve been a victim of identity theft or financial fraud. If you start seeing purchases on your credit card statement or withdrawals from your bank account that you didn’t make, start receiving credit card statements for cards in the mail that you haven’t opened, get turned down for credit, despite having good credit history or start receiving collection calls for debts that you can’t explain, there’s a good chance you’ve been a victim of fraud. It’s also potentially a problem if there items on your credit report that doesn’t add up.
If you’ve experienced any or all of these, it’s time to take action.
Take everything seriously
When it comes to fraud, err on the side of caution. Don’t blow something off or decide that you’re overreacting. It only takes a few moments to follow up on any of these red flags. If there’s a misunderstanding, you’ve got peace of mind. If there’s something more sinister at play, it can take years (if at all) to clean up the mess that fraud makes for the victim, so following up is time well spent.
Your action plan
It’s important to report the fraud to the right people. Not only will this potentially help you get back on your feet, it will provide the authorities with valuable information that may be useful in shutting these fraudsters down for good.
Here’s a good resource [where is the resource?] from the Government of Canada that can help to direct you to the right place to report the fraud, whether you’ve been a victim of identity theft, investment fraud, tax fraud, credit card or bank account fraud or others.
You should also contact your financial institutions as well as the credit report issuers to make note on your file regarding the fraud. This will alert them and stop them from granting fraudsters any more credit or access to your finances.
How to protect yourself in the future
If you’ve been a victim, chances are you’re going to be on the offensive to protect yourself going forward and that’s a good thing. Change your passwords frequently. Don’t ever share your PIN number with anyone. Never divulge personal information unless absolutely necessary. Upgrade your security on your home computer. Don’t click on suspicious links or make purchases from websites that aren’t secure.