What to do if you are a victim of a scam?

If you suspect you’ve shared information with a scammer or discover fraudulent charges on an account, it’s important to take action as soon as possible.

In 2021 the Federal Trade Commission received 2.8 million fraud reports, with more than $5.8 billion reported lost. The most frequently reported category was scams by scammers, followed by online shopping scams.

We often get questions from viewers about these different types of scams, a topic we often cover at VERIFY to help people avoid falling victim to scams. But sometimes viewers turn to us because they fear they’ve been scammed.

Here are three things you can do to protect yourself after giving a scammer your personal information or noticing suspicious activity on a device or account.


As soon as you realize that your information may be compromised, it’s important to take action. Here are steps you can take:

1. Report the scam to the police, your banks and credit bureaus

If your personal information, like your social security number, has been compromised — or if you’ve been scammed out of money — you should contact the police, your bank, and the big three credit bureaus.

To report fraud to the police, you must make a phone call or visit the Fraud Division at your local police station. Gather records and information before the call. Here are some examples of what to bring:

  • bank statements or credit card charges
  • emails
  • Telephone and text call history
  • screenshots
  • Links to websites

Contact your bank or financial institution if you provided payment information to the scammer.

If you paid with a credit or debit card, or received an unauthorized transfer from your account, you can tell the bank it was a fraudulent charge and ask them to reverse the transaction or give you a refund . You can also request refunds if you sent a transfer through a company like Western Union or MoneyGram.

Giving a scammer your social security number gives them an opportunity to take credit lines — like applying for loans or credit cards. In that case, you should contact the big three credit bureaus and have your balance blocked.

“This prevents lenders and others from fully accessing your credit report, which prevents them from making loans,” he said Tennessee Attorney General’s Office says.

According to Equifax, one of the major credit bureaus, the security freeze restricts access to the credit report, preventing people from granting credit on your behalf. If you want to apply for a loan, or if you know your loan is secure, you can request a temporary or permanent security lockout.

How to reach the three major offices:

These credit bureaus may also add fraud alerts to warn potential lenders that you may be a victim of identity theft.

says Experian Once you identify and report the fraud, the fraudulent transactions or accounts can be removed and no longer affect your credit score.

More from VERIFY: How to avoid credit repair scams

2. Change your passwords and add two-factor authentication to your accounts

That’s what the FTC says “Passwords are the locks on your account doors.”

A lot of personal information is stored in online accounts, including your email address, bank account, and tax returns. Therefore, changing your password is crucial. Here are tips to keep in mind when creating a new password:

  • Make sure the password is at least 12 characters long
  • Don’t use the same password for multiple accounts
  • Set up multi-factor authentication or two-factor authentication requirements
  • Choose a password manager like LastPass that helps keep track of passwords
  • Choose a security question only you know the answer to

Get Cyber ​​Safe, a public awareness campaign created in Canada, has this helpful YouTube video on choosing a strong password.

Setting up two-factor authentication will send a notification to an application or code via SMS whenever you or someone else tries to log into one of your accounts.

Nobody can log into your account even if they have the password if they don’t have the additional code.

If you’re already locked out of an account and haven’t set up another security measure like a security question or a backup email account, you’ll need to contact Customer Support.

If someone is using your information to open new accounts or make purchases, you can get help at IdentityTheft.gov.

More from VERIFY: 5 tips to spot email scams

3. Check your computer and other devices

Not only are scammers trying to attack your accounts or money, they may have infiltrated your computer as well. According to the Minnesota Attorney General’s officescammers do this by making unsolicited phone calls or placing deceptive pop-up ads in an attempt to inject malware or viruses into a computer.

What to do if you think your devices have been hacked by scammers:

  • Make sure your antivirus is up to date and running, and that your system is free of malware and keylogging software. If the computer won’t run any programs, disconnect it from the Internet and take it to a reputable computer technician for a check-up.
  • If a scammer has taken control of your cell phone, contact your wireless service provider. Most major wireless service providers can turn off phone service upon your request.

Once you regain access to your devices, change your passwords and PIN numbers.

If you or someone you know has been the victim of a scam, you can do so report online with the FTC, or call them at 877-382-4357. You can also report fraud to FBI Cybercrime Complaints Center or the BBB scam tracker.

More from VERIFY: Watch out for these common holiday scams

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https://www.kvue.com/article/news/verify/scams-verify/how-to-protect-yourself-after-falling-victim-to-scam/536-4c34cab1-c451-45ea-a423-383893d1d5d1 What to do if you are a victim of a scam?

Laura Coffey

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