No one plans to get scammed. While some scams are elaborate, phishing scams only take clicking one suspicious link in a message and suddenly you’re a victim at risk of losing your money or identity. Here’s what to do if it happens to you:
What to do if you’re scammed
1. Take a few moments to recognize what happened and take a deep breath.
2. Gather any information you have related to the scam, such as emails or messages.
3. If it involves financial fraud, contact your financial institution to let them know the transaction was fraudulent. If your identity might have been stolen, flag the risk on your accounts and inform the credit reporting agencies (Equifax and TransUnion Canada). This way, everyone can be on the lookout for any more fraudulent transactions.
4. Change the compromised account passwords for security. And if you used the same password for any other accounts, create a new, unique password for those too.
5. Contact the police to file a report and inform the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC) about how you were scammed. This step can help bring your scammer to justice and prevent others from being duped.
How to improve your cyber safety for the future
1. If you struggle to remember strong, secure passwords or passphrases, use a reliable password manager, or print out a password organizer you can write on and store in a secure place – not beside your computer. Use multi-factor authentication (MFA) whenever you have that option.
2. Look out for signs of phishing. Emails, texts or messages from people trying to scam you often contain obvious spelling and grammar mistakes or unprofessional wording or design. The sender’s email address is often unrelated to the company they are pretending to be.
3. Practice regular computer maintenance tasks, including installing all software updates and backing up your hard drive so you can recover your files if you are scammed.
4. Don’t share sensitive information online and never send money to someone you’ve only met online, even if they have a convincing reason why they “need” it.
Find more information and tips to stay safe online at GetCyberSafe.ca.