(NC) You work hard for your money, so you can spend it on things that matter to you — whether it’s your children’s education, a once-in-a-lifetime trip or a fancy new smartphone. But every day, there are fraudsters trying to scam you out of your money online, in-person, by mail or over the phone. The best thing you can do is take steps to protect yourself, but if you do fall victim to a scam, here’s what you should do:

If you’ve been tricked into signing a contract or buying a product or service. Contact your provincial or territorial consumer affairs office and consider getting independent legal advice to examine your options — there may be a cooling off period or you may be able to negotiate a refund.

If your financial information has been compromised. Call your financial institution immediately so they can suspend your accounts and limit the amount of money you lose. Credit card companies may also be able to reverse a transaction if they believe your card was billed fraudulently.

If you sent money to a scammer. If you sent money through an e-transfer, contact your financial institution immediately. If they have not already processed the transfer, they may be able to cancel it. If you sent money through a wire service, contact the wire service immediately — act quickly and the company may be able to stop the transfer. If you sent a cheque, contact your financial institution immediately. If the scammer hasn’t already cashed your cheque, they may be able to cancel it.

If the scam relates to your health. Stop taking pills or substances you are unsure about immediately and see a doctor or other qualified medical professional as soon as you can. Don’t be embarrassed — tell them about the treatment and bring along any substances, including their packaging, so they can be better equipped to help you. Also tell them if you have stopped any treatment that you were on before the scam.

Report the fraud. In all cases, you should report the scam to the authorities who may be able to warn other people and minimize the chances of it spreading further. The best places to report this are the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre and the Competition Bureau.

Find more information at www.competitionbureau.gc.ca/fraud and www.antifraudcentre-centreantifraude.ca.