Becoming a victim of fraud is one of the worst things anyone can experience. Unfortunately, too many people share the heart-stopping feeling of having their identity stolen.
According to recent data, Consumers reported more than 2.1 million fraud cases to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in 2020. The spikes of fraudulent claims come during the awake of Covid-19. As more people were staying at home, they were during more online shopping.
Think about how many apps and websites you use to share your personal information. Do you remember putting your data in a here’s your chance to win $1,000 sweepstakes recently? If so, it’s a good chance of you opening yourself to being a part of a scam.
Now let’s get right into it; here’s what to do if you are a victim of fraud.
You Should Stop Contributing Money to the Fraud
Many well-developed schemes may have their victims pay monthly fees or several different fees to receive their prize. If you know you’re fraud has associated costs with it, then stop paying for them. Make sure to call your bank and tell them about what’s going on to help make sure they do not have any more access to your bank account.
Identify the Type of Fraud You Was Apart Of
You need to know what type of fraud you were a victim of, so you know the correct steps you should take. For example, if you were a victim of ID fraud, you will need to report to the Federal Trade Commission to know the proper steps to recover your identity. Below are some of the most common frauds scammers often do
- Mortgage fraud
- Bank fraud
- Tax refund fraud
- Mail fraud
- Bank account fraud
- Credit and Debit card fraud
- Dating fraud
Also, keep in mind that the type of laws governing the crime will affect the steps to fix the problem. For example, the law governing a bank fraud victim is different from someone suffering from an identity thief.
Make Sure to Collect All Information and Document
Upon discovering the type of fraud you were a victim of, the next step is to gather as much information as possible regarding the scam. Start by building a timeline of when the scam began, based on your memories of the events. Be sure to note down when and where you spoke to the scammers and the dates and times they occurred.
Next, gather all evidence and documents that will be useful during the fraud investigation process. The documents and information you will need to collect are the following below:
- The scammers’ names, titles, or positions
- Collect any social media interactions such as profiles, group posts, and chats
- Save emails and email addresses electronically and print them out with the full header information
- Any phone numbers you used to contact the scammers
- Credit cares receipts or statements
- Any exchange of digital currencies like bitcoins
- Canceled checks, money orders, or prepaid cards along with receipts for other forms of payment.
- Including letters received in the mail from the scammers
If you need any help collecting, then consider hiring a fraud lawyer. If you’re late on realizing you were a part of a scam, you might not be able to all of the essential documents and information on your own. A lawyer can help you recover the paperwork and lead any legal advice on how to handle the scam.
Here’s a link to a class action lawyer if you need one: https://financialjusticenow.com/washington-consumer-class-action-lawyer/
Take Steps to Protect Your Identity and Financial Accounts
If you provided payment information to the scammers, you need to act quickly to block their access to your accounts and protect your identity. For example, if you provided credit card information, contact your card issuers to make a fraud report. Also, you may be required to open a new account as part of the process.
Next, you should contact one of the three nationalcredit reporting companies and see if you can place a fraud alert on your credit file. If you do not know the credit reporting companies, then here they are below.
- Equifax: 1-800-525-6285
- Experian: 1-888-397-3742
- Transunion: 1-800-916-8800
By alerting a credit reporting company, they will report the fraud alert to the other companies and notify potential creditors to verify your identity before extending additional credit in your name. The placement of a fraud alert is free and usually lasts for one year.
Another option from the credit reporting companies is to do a security freeze, as it will restrict access to your credit file. The security freeze will make it harder for scammers to open accounts in your name, and it cannot be lifted unless you request it.
Report the Fraud to the Police
If you believe the fraud is on a bigger scale and scammers are getting into other people’s accounts, then you should report it to your local police department.
They can determine how big of a scale the scam is and help alert others within your area of fraud. Also, your local police department should have a non-emergency number to contact for this situation.
Never Fall For Another Scam
After your first experience of being a victim of fraud, you will learn the warning signs of a scam. To help you out, below are some of the signs of a scam:
- Someone is pretending to be a part of an organization you know and demanding information from you
- Always remember, companies already have your information on file
- They may say you owe money or won a prize, and they need your information to handle the issue
- The scammer will pressure you to hand over your information no matter how many times you tell them no
- Scammers will tell you to pay a certain way, such as through a gift card or transfer company
You should also consider changing some of your routine activities. These activities include participating in free giveaways, special offers, signing up for specific forms, or adding anyone on social media.
Sometimes scammers gain your information from here and sell it to the dark web. If you do not want to become a victim of fraud again, then stay informed and stay off of fishy websites.
Now You Know How to Protect Yourself From Becoming a Victim of Fraud
Once you find out you’re a victim of fraud, do not waste time taking action to fix the problem. The longer you wait, the worst the situation will get. Also, if you must, contact a lawyer to help you as they have the skill and knowledge to handle scammers. Now, did you enjoy this blog post? If so, we have more for you to read, come read the next one when you’re ready.
Danny White is a freelance writer who offers to ghostwrite, copywriting, and blogging services. He works closely with B2C and B2B businesses providing digital marketing content that gains social media attention and increases their search engine visibility.