Courtesy of Travelers Insurance
If you’ve been scammed out of money online, it can be embarrassing to admit and scary to know what to do about it. However, becoming the victim of an online scam is all too common, with over 2.1 million people having reported fraud within the past year.1 Scammers exploit vulnerabilities and take advantage of good-natured victims. Seniors are particularly attractive targets for scammers, as typically, many are financially secure, own a home, and have good credit.2 The keys to recovering your dignity and your money from an online fraudster are knowing what to do when you get scammed and taking quick action.
Who to Contact if You’ve Been Scammed
Recovery begins with making the right contacts and knowing how you can report a scammer. Here are the organizations to contact if you’ve been scammed:
Typically, the FTC will create a custom recovery plan for you, to help you know what to do next. The FTC uses the information you provide in your report to build a case against online scammers, notice trends, and educate the public.3 Depending on the facts of your case, you may also choose to file a report with your local police department.4
It is important to report fraudulent activity on your accounts to your financial institution as soon as possible so they can attempt to reverse the transaction and get your money back. If you paid a scammer by credit card, your credit card company will typically let you dispute the charge. Wire transfers may be more difficult to rescind, but you should contact the wire transfer company and try to get your money back.
Place a fraud alert on your credit report by contacting the three major credit reporting agencies: Experian, Equifax or TransUnion. Whichever one you contact typically will share the information with the other two.5 A fraud alert will make it harder for someone to open a new credit account in your name. Also, review your credit report for items you are unfamiliar with and report them to the credit bureau as fraudulent.
4. A Victim Support Group
Victims of financial crimes often may feel shame or a loss of confidence in themselves. It is important to understand that online scammers are typically devious and difficult to spot. They are practiced at the art of taking advantage of innocent people. Contact a victim support group to get the help you need to recover from this very upsetting incident. You can find support groups online, on social media and in your community.
How to Avoid Future Scams
Now that you know what to do after being scammed, you can take some precautions against future scams. Scammers are smart and tend to target people who display vulnerability. Learn more about avoiding scams, especially when using your smartphone. Continue to monitor news of online scams as new trends are recognized and reported by organizations like the FTC. Awareness can help you stay safe.
Protect Against Future Scams
Cyber crimes are prevalent, but there is a lot of information on the internet about how they are perpetrated and how to avoid them. Do your homework: read up on cyber crime and ask your insurance carrier if they review online scam reports and post up-to-date information. Take advantage of the resources available to you to help protect against online scams.
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Thanks for all the up to date information and reminders!
I’ve been scammed a number of times by venders selling “miracle” pills for several things I’ve had problems with. One of my rules now is that if their “spiel” takes longer than 10 or 15 minutes of them telling you all the things their product is supposed to do along with a long list of who it has done it to, I punch the bailout button and move on. If it requires me to produce my physical address, name, and other sensitive data, I bail out of it to avoid the tons of phone calls and emails, I dump them. My observations have caused me to conclude that “the longer the spiel, the greater the chance you’ll have of the product NOT working as promised,” and anything that locks you into a “an automatic renewal program with a free or discounted price “for your convenience of always having the product on hand (working or not)”, is a dead giveaway and will likely be difficult to get out of without a fight and eventually killing your credit card and getting a new one. Getting a new credit card number seems to work well on stubborn cases.
Pay pay assists scammers, I reported a company I bought a Christmas tree topper from and the sent me a stuffed troll. PayPal ignored the fact the company didn’t ship what was ordered, and sided with them because they had proof of delivery. Yeah delivery of the wrong item! Which PayPal totally ignored even with pictures.
Beware of web sites that want you to enter your credit card number before you’ve had a chance to see exactly what you’re getting yourself in to, ” Hello Fresh,” is a good example, they are a home delivery food company that requires all of your financial information, before you can get a full disclosure of their business practices, you’re in for a lot of surprises, if you expect to get what you want, at the prices that they advertise before you enter your financial information. Do your homework and read the reviews before you do business with them. I had to threaten them with calling the state attorney general to investigate their business practices, before they finally cancelled my account…Another word to the wise, NEVER sign any type of agreement, or contract, without knowing EXACTLY what you’re getting in to, because after you’ve signed, THEY OWN YOU, for the duration of the agreement.
We’re all being scammed out of our money by criminals every day… its called INCOME TAX!
Not a scam. It is extortion.
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