How to report fraud and scams in Canada

Reporting fraud is critical

The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre estimates that less than 5% of the total number of fraud victims report their experiences to law enforcement agencies in Canada. By reporting a scam, you provide law enforcement with the information they need to stop fraudsters and help prevent others from becoming victims. The information you provide is important!

Take the following steps if you suspect that you may be or have been a target of fraud.

Step 1: Gather all information about the suspected fraud

All information related to a scam might be useful as evidence. Here's how you can help:

  • Take note of the name of the person who approached you, what they were trying to get you to do, and when it happened.
  • If they contacted you by telephone, write down the phone number they used.
  • If the contact was online, make printouts or take screenshots of key web pages, such as those focusing on the product or service, the terms and conditions, and payment information.
  • Write down or copy and paste the exact website address.
  • If you were contacted by email, save a copy and take note of the sender’s IP address, if possible.
  • If you found the website using a search engine like Google, provide the search terms you used and indicate whether you clicked on a link or banner ad.
  • Keep your notes and all documentation, such as:
    • receipts (for mail, credit card payments, wire transfers, money orders, etc.)
    • cancelled cheques
    • copies of emails and/or text messages
    • chatroom or newsgroup text messages
    • shipping envelopes
    • facsimiles
    • pamphlets or brochures
    • phone bills
    • printed or electronic copies of emails
    • printed or electronic copies of web pages
Note: Keep all documents in a safe location in case you are asked to provide them. This information may form an important part of any fraud investigation and could be used as evidence during prosecution.

Step 2: Report the incident to local law enforcement

Reporting fraud or suspected fraud to your local law enforcement agency ensures the police in your jurisdiction are aware that a scammer may be targeting local businesses. It’s especially important to always call the police if you have lost money in a fraud.

Keep a listing of all calls you make to the police and any file number they might provide for your fraud report for future reference.

Step 3: Report the incident to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre or the Competition Bureau

Contact the Fraud Reporting System (Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre) or call toll-free at 1-888-495-8501.

You can also file a report of a misleading or deceptive marketing practice with the Competition Bureau using the online complaint form.

Step 4: Report the incident to the financial institution that transferred the money

If you have already sent money, notify the financial institution you sent the money to. This might be a money service business such as Western Union or MoneyGram, a bank or a credit union, a credit card company, or an Internet payment service provider. Tell them you are reporting fraudulent activity associated with their account.

Step 5: Notify the website where the fraud took place (if applicable)

If the fraud took place online, such as through Facebook, eBay, a classified ad website such as Kijiji, or a dating website, be sure to report the incident directly to the website. Details on how to do this can be found under the "report abuse" or "report an ad" links on the respective sites.

Step 6: Place flags on your accounts and check your credit report

In addition to reporting suspected fraud or identity theft to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, you should also contact both of Canada’s national credit bureaus—Equifax Canada and TransUnion Canada—to order a free credit report immediately and ask that a fraud alert be put on your file.

Place a fraud alert on your file :

  • Equifax (see “Request a fraud alert””)
  • TransUnion (see “Online Fraud Services”)

Order your credit report (information provided by the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada):

Further reading

Contact information for specific types of fraud

While the Competition Bureau does not investigate many of the following scams, we work with many enforcement bodies to help address them.

Contact the organizations listed below to report a scam or request and investigation.

  • Fraud and scams in your province/territory

    Contact your local consumer affairs office to request an investigation into a scam that appears to come from within your own province or territory. You can also contact the Better Business Bureau to file a complaint or leave a review about a business.

  • Banking and credit card scams

    In addition to reporting all scams to the Canadian Anti Fraud Centre, you should alert your bank or financial institution about any suspicious correspondence you receive regarding your account. They can advise you on what to do next.

    To contact your bank or financial institution, make sure you use the contact information provided through official banking sources (such as your online banking account, account statement, or the back of your bank or credit card).

  • Identity theft

    To report identity theft, contact:

    • your local police and file a report
    • your bank or financial institution and your credit card company
    • the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre
    • the two national credit bureaus, to place a fraud alert on your credit report file:

    If you suspect that someone is using your social insurance number (SIN) fraudulently, act quickly to help prevent personal loss and minimize the negative impact. If your SIN was stolen, contact Service Canada at 1-866-274-2267. For more information on how to protect your SIN, consult the Service Canada website.

  • Financial and investment scams

    You can report financial and investment scams to your local securities regulator or to the:

  • Spam emails and text messages

    To report spam emails and text messages, contact the:

  • False or misleading advertising

    You can report instances of misleading or deceptive marketing practices to the Competition Bureau using the online complaint form or by telephone at 1-800-348-5358.

  • Charity scams

    Before you donate money to a charity, research the organization to ensure it is legitimate. For example, the Canada Revenue Agency has a searchable online database of all registered charities operating in Canada.

    You can also contact your local Better Business Bureau to see if they have any information about the charity you're interested in.