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Been a victim of fraud? Here’s why you should report it

By Diane Amato

Published March 6, 2024 • 6 Min Read

Realizing you’ve been tricked by a scammer is a terrible feeling, and victims of fraud are often embarrassed to admit they’ve been duped. But if your private information, account credentials or money has been stolen by a fraudster, there are many reasons why it’s important to report what happened.

Fraudsters are getting increasingly clever and aggressive, making scams harder to detect and easier to fall for. While you may not want to admit that you’ve been a victim of fraud, it’s nothing to be embarrassed about – and telling the right people can keep it from happening again.

By reporting fraud, you are:

Assisting law enforcement in their investigations

When local and national law enforcement agencies are made aware of incidents of fraud, they can investigate these crimes, build cases against the cyber criminals and, in some cases, link several crimes together. The more information they have, the better their chances are of catching the offender.

Protecting your friends, family, and the community

Anti-fraud agencies collect fraud reports and use them to build awareness campaigns to inform the public of the latest scams. News reports about common scams can help make others aware of what to watch out for and can help educate people about current tactics. When you report what happened to you, your story can help keep others around you safer.

Contributing to anti-fraud solutions

Just as fraudsters are finding new ways to trick people out of money or information, technology, communication, and financial companies are continuously working to develop solutions that help both businesses and consumers reduce their risks. By reporting your experience, you’re helping these companies understand the current fraud landscape and advance their technologies accordingly.

Where to report fraud

Who do you call when you have been targeted by a fraudster? There are a few key organizations to notify.

Your Bank

If you believe your confidential information may have been stolen or obtained by a fraudulent party either online, by telephone or through any other means, please call your financial institution immediately.

If you think you are a victim of fraud and you are an RBC client:

  • 1-800-769-2511 (telephone banking)

  • 1-800-769-2555 (online/mobile banking)

  • 1-800-769-2512 (credit cards)

  • 1-800-769-2535 (RBC Express online banking Client Support Centre)

  • RBC Bank (Georgia), N.A.: 1-800-769-2553

  • TDD/TYY: 1-800-661-1275

  • Outside Canada and the U.S.: Reach us using our International Toll-Free Service.

Your national anti-fraud organization

  • In Canada, this is the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, which collects information on fraud and identity theft, and then provides information on past and current scams affecting Canadians. The CAFC also provides information to law enforcement and governments in Canada and around the world with the goals of disrupting crime and maintaining the Canadian economy.

  • In the U.S., the Federal Trade Commission enforces federal consumer protection laws that prevent fraud, deception and unfair business practices. They have simple, online fraud reporting tools that make it easy to share your experience.

  • In the UK, the National Cyber Security Centre serves a similar purpose, providing advice and support for the public and private sector in how to avoid computer security threats.

  • If you’re elsewhere in the world, search for your country’s national organization dedicated to combatting fraud and find out how and where to report your fraud experience.

Local law enforcement

Your town or city’s police services also want to hear from you so they can be aware of any local fraud cases and build cases against the criminals. They will collaborate with anti-fraud agencies and other national organizations to track the type and frequency of fraud occurring.

Credit reporting agency

If a fraudster has got their hands on your personal information, it’s important to notify Equifax or TransUnion so they can add a fraud alert to your file. A fraud alert can make it harder for someone to open unauthorized accounts in your name, as lenders will be encouraged to take extra steps to verify your identity. For instance, they may contact you by phone before opening a new credit account in your name or making changes to your existing accounts.

The website where the fraud occurred

If the scam occurred on a website, social media platform or online marketplace, it’s worth contacting the company to let them know what happened. Your report can help them strengthen their processes, alert other customers and make it easier for their teams to spot fraud before or as it occurs.

How to protect yourself going forward

If you’ve been a victim of fraud, there is a reasonable chance you will be targeted again. Here are some tips to stay safe:

  • Change all of your passwords: Immediately following a fraud experience, change all of your passwords so that a fraudster can’t gain further access to your accounts or information. Use these guidelines to create strong passwords.

  • Add Multi-Factor Authentication to your accounts: Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA), also known as 2-Step Verification or Two-Factor Authentication (2FA), makes it harder for cyber criminals to steal your information because it uses two separate factors to identify you. One is typically your username and password, while the other could be your cellphone, fingerprint, or other biometric data. While some apps and websites use MFA automatically, some leave the decision up to you.

  • Set up Face ID and fingerprint features: Like with MFA, these biometric features add an extra layer of security that help keep your data secure.

  • Stay up to date with current scams. It’s easier to spot a scam when you know what to watch for. The RBC Cyber Security Centre has a library of the latest and most common scams, new mitigation strategies and other tips to stay safe.

Remember, fraudsters are exceptionally clever and use advanced techniques to trick people into thinking they are legitimate people and organizations – so falling victim to a scam is nothing to be embarrassed about. If you’ve been a fraud target, reporting the incident can help keep you, your network, and your community safer from cyber criminals.

This article is intended as general information only and is not to be relied upon as constituting legal, financial or other professional advice. A professional advisor should be consulted regarding your specific situation. Information presented is believed to be factual and up-to-date but we do not guarantee its accuracy and it should not be regarded as a complete analysis of the subjects discussed. All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of the authors as of the date of publication and are subject to change. No endorsement of any third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products or services is expressly given or implied by Royal Bank of Canada or any of its affiliates.

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