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If you think you are the victim of fraud or unethical behaviour, act promptly. Call the police if you have been promised work that doesn’t exist or if your credit card has had unauthorised charges put on it.

If you have signed a contract but have not received the services for which you’ve paid, the Pre-paid Services Act gives you five working days to cancel the contract and get your money back. The courts have ruled over and over that photographic service fall under the provisions of that act and must be refunded if you cancel within the time limit. Cancel the contract with a registered letter.

Arts related legal problems arise in many situations – consult a lawyer to see if you have a case or if the problem can be resolved through the courts. The Artists’ Legal Advice Services (ALAS) offers legal advice and educational services at no cost to Ontario artists of all disciplines. You may schedule an appointment to see a lawyer for a half-hour by calling (416) 367-2527 and leaving a message on their answering machine about your situation. They will call you back. The lawyers on duty for ALAS are funded by Legal Aid Ontario. Clients are encouraged to make a modest donation for each legal appointment. CLASP (Community Legal Action Ontario) also offers legal aid support – contact them in Toronto at (416) 736-5029.

The Ontario Ministry of Consumer and Business Services offers consumer advice on how to protect yourself from common scams at www.cbs.gov.on.ca and wants to hear from you if you’ve got a complaint about a particular business. If you have been approached or have signed a contract with someone you think may be an unethical agent, call the Ministry at (416) 326-8800 or toll free at 1-800-889-9768.

Compaints about agencies should be communicated to the following:

  • The newspaper in which you saw the ad for the agency;
  • The credit card company which has given the agency credit card privileges;
  • Document the names of the people who you talked to at the agency and the promises they made;
  • Call the AMIS hotline at (416) 977-3832 and tell them about your complaint so that this information will be registered on its database. At present, one agency has been convicted for criminal fraud, as a direct result of information provided to AMIS;
  • Call the Ontario Ministry of Consumer and Business Services at (416) 326-8800 to register your complaint about a particular business if you think you’ve been scammed.

If the agency advertises for clients, you can ask Industry Canada to investigate - write to Director of Investigation and Research, Competition Bureau, Industry Canada, Place du Portage 1, 50 Victoria Street, Hull, Quebec, K1A 0C9.

Avoiding Scams