- Types of Scams in California
- Report Fraud in California: Key Contacts
- Report a California Business
- Report Unemployment Fraud
- Hiring a Lawyer in California
- Identity Theft in California
- Frequently Asked Questions
If you're living in California and have fallen victim to a scam, here are all of the resources you'll need to recover and report it. Although there's no guarantee that you'll be able to recoup your losses, there is help available.
Types of Scams in California
Californians are no strangers to scams, being targeted by hackers, phishers, credit card thieves, identity thieves, and scam callers. Some of the most common scams to be aware of when living in California include:
- Calls from scammers impersonating legitimate businesses and agencies (e.g., fake Apple tech support calls, fake Social Security calls, etc.)
- Phishing emails that trick you into entering your personal information on a phishing website
- Credit card fraud (i.e., unauthorized use of your credit card)
- Unemployment benefits fraud (i.e., someone claiming unemployment benefits in your name)
- Rental scams (either as a landlord or a renter)
- Buyer and seller scams
- Home services scams (e.g., issues with plumbers, electricians, and other contractors)
- Fake charities
- Fake loan offers
Report Fraud in California: Key Contacts
If you were scammed by an individual versus a business, for example, if you paid for something on Craigslist, but you never received the item, you can report the scam to:
- Your local police
- The Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
- The Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) for scams that happen online
Report Fraud to the California Attorney General
Scams can be reported to your local Attorney General's office or to the California office by calling (800) 952-5341.
You should also notify any of the following that applies to your situation:
- The company that was being impersonated.
- The website or app you used.
- Your financial institution or bank.
After falling for a scam in California, it's essential to report it to the right people and agencies to help you recover your losses, educate others on the scam, and help stop the scammers.
Reporting Scams (by City)
Report a California Business
There are different entities to file a complaint with depending on the type of business that scammed you.
Report Unemployment Fraud
If you think someone is claiming unemployment benefits in your name, you can file a fraud report with the Employment Development Department:
- By fax: 1 (866) 340-5485
- By calling: 1 (800) 229-6297
- By mail to:
PO Box 826880
Sacramento, CA 94280-0225
Note that you may not know someone is fraudulently claiming unemployment insurance payments until it's too late. If you receive a 1099G form but don't claim unemployment benefits, you need to report it.
The above contact information can also be used to report others who are claiming benefits fraudulently, including:
- Unemployment insurance
- Disability insurance
- Paid family leave
- Payroll tax
- Workers compensation
- Social Security insurance
Hiring a Lawyer in California
Sometimes, reporting fraud in California isn't enough, especially if you're trying to recoup your losses. Hiring a lawyer can help you deal with businesses and individuals, but beware that they can be costly.
If you don't have a lawyer, you can contact the California State Bar to be referred to a certified lawyer:
- From within California: (866) 442-2529
- From outside California: (415) 538-2250
- Find a lawyer online
Identity Theft in California
If you've had your identity stolen, there are several steps you need to take to recover and stop the thieves from fraudulently using your name, Social Security number, bank accounts, and more.
There are two types of identity theft:
- Regular identity theft: Where someone uses your name and information fraudulently.
- Criminal identity theft: Where someone uses your identity after or when committing a crime.
Recovering from Identity Theft in California
If you've had your identity stolen, whether due to a phishing attack or other scam, you need to act quickly and take some crucial steps to minimize the impact. Recovering from identity theft can be an extremely stressful and arduous process, so be prepared.
- Freeze your credit or place a fraud alert on your credit report. (Contact the credit bureaus.)
- Get a police report of the theft from your local police. Bring as much evidence as possible, such as copies of your credit report showing fraudulent activity.
- Contact the creditors that opened the fraudulent accounts in your name and let them know it was not you that requested them. Close any accounts that you did not authorize.
- Report the identity theft to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
- Continue to monitor your credit report for suspicious activity (e.g., unauthorized credit pulls or opened accounts).
Recovering from Criminal Identity Theft in California
Criminal identity theft is very serious and can wreak havoc on your life. It occurs when someone is taken in by law enforcement for committing a crime, and instead of using their real name, they use yours. Once this happens, you'll end up with a criminal record—for a crime you didn't commit.
This can have serious domino effects, such as:
- Losing your job and not being able to be hired in the future
- Having a warrant for your arrest (or being arrested) for a crime you didn't commit
- Losing your driver's license
- Facing more severe penalties when convicted for other crimes
- Losing your professional license
- Being unable to get approved for housing (e.g., when renting)
If you've fallen victim to criminal identity theft in California, you'll need to apply to be added to the California Identity Theft Registry. You can do this online or by calling +1 (888) 880-0240 to be sent a registration pack (including instructions). You'll need to:
- Get a Certificate of Identity Theft by going to court.
- Get your fingerprints scanned at a LiveScan location.
- Complete the Identity Theft: Application for Registration as Victim form.
- Send your application form, court order, and LiveScan Service Form to:
State of California
Department of Justice
BCIA/Command Center Rm G210
P.O. Box 903417
Sacramento, CA 94203-4170
Attn: I.D. Theft Registry
Once your application is processed, your details will be added to a California-wide database, and agencies and individuals that you've specified will be notified of this criminal identity theft.