Report Fraud or Misconduct

We can help you focus your complaint, sort out which regulator to file it with, and understand what to expect.

If you need immediate access to the British Columbia Securities Commission’s (BCSC) File a Complaint form, please click the button below.

Learn about the BC Securities Commission’s Complaint Process

The British Columbia Securities Commission (BCSC) is the provincial agency that strives to make the investment markets benefit the public – enabling people to achieve their financial goals, enterprises to grow, and British Columbia to thrive.  We create and enforce rules to keep the investment marketplace fair, honest and resilient, and adapt those rules in response to new risks, new investment products and new business models.

When the rules are violated, we strive to return illegal gains back to victims. We hold the wrongdoers accountable through monetary penalties and banishment from the investment markets.

If you believe you may have lost money due investment fraud or other market misconduct, we encourage you to file a complaint. The sooner we hear from you , the sooner we can take possible action.

The information below outlines some of the ways you may seek recourse through a complaint. Review each section to assess how you should proceed.

Before You File a Complaint​

Before you file, collect any relevant documents that support your complaint. If possible, have copies of your investment account statements or information related to the situation. You may also choose to save emails, text messages, or other forms of written communication. Submitting supporting documentation with your complaint can help us determine the best course of action.

If you have already contacted your investment advisor or their firm, it helps to provide those details when the complaint is filed.

You must also decide how to file a complaint. We accept complaints through email, regular mail, or our online complaint form. If you wish to file an anonymous complaint, we recommend that you use the online form. You can also call BCSC Inquiries to make a complaint over the phone.

Watch this video to find out what happens when you make a complaint.

What the BCSC Can & Cannot Do

The BCSC has a wide range of authority, including enforcement powers to disrupt, stop, and prevent unscrupulous market behaviour. Here is a summary of what the BCSC can and cannot do:

The BCSC Can

  • act against market misconduct, including removing from the market those who do not comply with the law or who cheat investors
  • enforce compliance with securities legislation
  • in some cases, order respondents to pay back money to investors
  • answer general questions about investment products and services
  • tell you if a firm or representative is registered in BC
  • tell you if the BCSC, or another securities regulator, has disciplined an individual or company
  • suggest options for pursuing your complaint and tell you which organization may be of the most help

The BCSC Cannot

  • force someone to give your money back
  • undo a transaction
  • give advice on an investment
  • give legal advice
  • negotiate a settlement on your behalf
  • comment on an investigation

Complaints About Investment Advisors or Firms

Complaints about investment firms or their advising representatives can range from problems with service quality or errors in account handling, to concerns that you have received poor investment advice or that securities rules may have been broken. The nature of your complaint and the type of firm involved will determine your best course of action.

Approach Your Investment Firm

Before pursuing action with a regulator, raise your concerns with the person who handles your account. They can often quickly clear up what may have been a misunderstanding.

If you are unable to resolve matters with your advisor, ask the firm for information about its formal complaint process. In most cases, the next step is to write a letter to the firm’s branch manager or compliance officer. The firm should acknowledge receipt of your letter, investigate your complaint, and then inform you of the outcome.

If you are still dissatisfied with the outcome, you have other options for pursuing your complaint outside the firm, depending on the outcome you are looking for, the type of firm you are dealing with, and the nature of your complaint.

  • If you are looking for financial compensation, you can contact the Ombudsman for Banking Services and Investment (OBSI). Read more about OBSI in the Seek Financial Compensation section below.
  • If you are concerned the advisor or firm you deal with may have broken the rules, take your complaint to the appropriate regulator to ask for a regulatory review. You can request a regulatory review and pursue financial compensation options at the same time.

Document the Complaint Process

Once you begin the complaint process, it is important to document and record every step you take, including telephone conversations, emails, and other documentation. Note all details such as the date, time, and name of the person you spoke with and what you discussed. Communicate in writing whenever possible.

Find the Right Regulator

Two self-regulatory organizations (SROs) supervise the business conduct of investment dealers and mutual fund dealers. SROs are industry associations that set and enforce rules and standards for their members and are answerable to the BCSC. Each SRO has a formal process for reviewing complaints about its member firms and their sales representatives.

Complaints about advisors and dealers that are not members of an SRO should be made to the BCSC in the following cases:

  • Complaints about portfolio managers and investment counsel, scholarship plan dealers, exchange contracts dealers, and other limited dealers.
  • Complaints about an individual or company trading or advising without being registered.
  • Complaints that have not been satisfactorily resolved by other organizations.

Complaints About Companies

If you have a complaint about an investment you made in a company or concerns about the conduct of a company, its directors, or officers, you have a number of options.

Complaints About the Conduct of a Public Company

Regulators, like the BCSC, can conduct reviews and take enforcement action against companies and their directors and officers when they break the rules, but generally cannot order compensation for financial losses. If you are concerned about the conduct of a public company, here is how to proceed:

  1. Determine which regulator has jurisdiction:
    • If a public company is reporting in a number of provinces, the primary regulator is usually the province where the company has its head office or principal place of business. You can search a public company’s name on SEDAR and its profile will generally list its principal regulator.
  2. Determine which regulator handles the type of complaint you have:
    • When a public company in BC wants to raise money by selling its securities, it must follow the requirements of the Securities Act. The BCSC is responsible for enforcing the Act and is charged with investigating and acting against market misconduct by BC companies selling securities, or companies from outside BC selling securities to BC investors.
    • The BCSC and other Canadian provincial securities commissions have delegated regulatory authority to certain industry organizations and stock exchanges. These self-regulatory organizations establish and enforce rules for the protection of investors and promote fair, equitable, and ethical practices among market participants. The SROs are also responsible for industry compliance with securities law.
  3. If your complaint is about a trading-related matter involving a company listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX) or the TSX Venture Exchange (TSX Venture), you can send your complaint to the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada (IIROC).
  4. If your complaint is about the disclosure practices of any company listed on the TSX or TSX Venture Exchange, you can file it directly with them:

Complaints About an Investment in a Private Company

Although private companies may not have to file a prospectus with the BCSC to sell their securities, they must comply with the Securities Act, which limits how and to whom they can sell their securities.

Our private placements section explains what private companies must do to legally raise money in the private investment market and the risks of investing in private companies. If you believe that a private company has broken any of these rules in selling you its securities, contact the BCSC.

Under the Securities Act, a purchaser can take action if there was a misrepresentation in a company’s disclosure documents, or the purchaser did not receive a required disclosure document. Although the BCSC enforces the Securities Act, we cannot order financial compensation for investor losses. To pursue financial compensation, you must go through the courts. Review the Seek Financial Compensation section below for more information on this topic.

Seek Financial Compensation

You have several options if you want to seek financial compensation, including seeking a recommendation from the Ombudsman for Banking Services and Investment (OBSI) that the registered firm compensates you.

OBSI

OBSI is independent of registered firms and provides impartial and informal reviews of investment disputes. It can recommend compensation of up to $350,000. OBSI’s services are free to individuals. You do not need a lawyer to complain to OBSI about a registered firm’s response to your complaint. OBSI considers disputes between individuals and:

  • investment dealers
  • mutual fund dealers
  • portfolio managers
  • exempt market dealers
  • scholarship plan dealers

You can complain to the BCSC, IIROC, or the MFDA about a registered firm or an individual representative at the same time you complain to OBSI to seek financial compensation.

Additional Options for Seeking Financial Compensation

Optional Process with a Registered Firm

Some registered firms (in particular, subsidiaries of Canadian banks) have their own optional, internal process that begins after the firm’s written decision. The staff administering this process are often called internal ombudsperson. A registered firm’s internal ombudsman is different from OBSI. You are not required to have a registered firm’s internal ombudsperson consider your complaint before contacting OBSI. Using the registered firm’s internal ombudsperson process could leave you with less than 180 days to complain to OBSI.

Civil Action

At any time, you may discuss your complaint with a lawyer to get advice. If you consult a lawyer, you might hear about suing for compensation. There are two ways to do this in BC:

  1. BC Small Claims Court is a simple and relatively inexpensive way to sue for compensation and damages up to a maximum of $35,000. Most people represent themselves in small claims court.
  2. BC Supreme Court is the court you would use to sue for more than $35,000. In BC Supreme Court. A lawyer should represent you.
    Binding Arbitration

Binding Arbitration

If your complaint is about an investment dealer and the amount of the dispute is $500,000 or less, you can use IIROC’s binding arbitration program as an alternative to going to court. In binding arbitration you agree to treat the independent arbitrator’s decision as final and you give up the right to go to court or use any other dispute resolution service, including OBSI.

BCSC Complaint Form

The BCSC Complaint Form collects the information we need from you to determine what action we may be able to take.

The form is also available in the following formats:

Contact BCSC Inquiries if you have questions, or have a problem completing the form.

We welcome your questions, comments, and tips, and we will always do our best to assist you. If you need to speak to someone in person, please contact our Inquires staff. Their email and phone numbers are available on our Contact Us page.