Financial fraud is an intentional act of deception involving a financial transaction for purpose of personal gain. Online phishing scams, stolen credit cards, and identity theft are just some of the way you can be victimized by financial fraud. Not only does it wreak havoc on your finances, the stress and frustration it causes can be overwhelming.
According to a most recent survey conducted by the Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada, three-quarters of Canadians reported being more concerned about fraud today than they were five years ago and a third of them said they had been victims of financial fraud.
In 2014, the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC) estimated that Canadians lost almost $70,000,000 as a result of financial fraud. In the same year, over 41,000 people filed a formal complaint with the CAFC.
You’re a Victim of Financial Fraud… Now What?
The actual number of Canadians victimized by financial fraud is likely much higher than these numbers portray. Why? Most Canadians don’t report when they’ve been victimized. They either feel too humiliated or they think nothing can be done.
The truth is, not reporting the problem only makes the situation worse. The sooner you take action, the faster you can get your finances back on track. If you’ve recently been the victim of financial fraud, you have some options.
#1 Report It
When someone uses your financial information without your consent, it’s a criminal offense. Reporting it to the police gives you back control of your life. It also ensures that those who committed the act are brought to justice.
#2 Work with a Creditor
If you feel alone, you’re not. There are financial planners and creditors specifically trained to work with victims of financial fraud. Speaking with one can give you clarity in an otherwise murky situation. Creditors have the necessary resources and information you need to repair your finances. They can also help you prevent it from happening again.
- TransUnion Fraud Victims Resources – Tips on the right steps to take after you’ve been victimized. They also provide the contact information for agencies that can assist you through the process.
- Canadian Resource Centre for Victims of Crime E-Resource – An online resource that gives victims recent information on current frauds.
- Stop Fraud – An online directory, including resources and literature focused on how to proceed after you’ve been victimized.
#3 Change Your Account Passwords
This includes your online banking password and any type of verbal passwords you have on your credit cards. This helps prevent further victimization.
#4 Check Your Credit Report
Then, check your credit reports for anything unusual. This can include things like a hard pull you didn’t make or unfamiliar personal information or payment history. If you see something wrong, address it immediately. When you contact the police, make sure you include this in your report.
The emotional toll that financial fraud takes is impossible to quantify. Victims are left feeling embarrassed and helpless. That’s why there are agencies specifically built to work with people that have been victimized.
By reporting the crime to the police and taking the right steps forward, you can start to take back control of your life.