Scammers have evolved from being simple pickpockets to big-time online frauds. Their methods have evolved along with the technology. Nowadays, their techniques are more sophisticated. That is why it is becoming harder and harder to identify scams.
Unfortunately, there will come a time that you will fall for their tricks. Sometimes, it is unavoidable even with all your protections and preparations. It is important to realize that someone might be scamming you.
So, what should you do after being scammed? Below are the most common scams and the steps to take after being a victim.
Types of Scams
Old fraudulent activities by brick-and-mortar shops have shifted to online stores. It becomes easier to trick people into online shopping relies heavily on trust. Both the online store and the customer should be able to trust each other. Scammers easily take this vulnerability as an advantage.
The number of victims increases each year. Online sellers sometimes overcharge their customers. Others victims of fake giveaways such as the bikini scam. Participants thought they won free swimwear. Only to find out that they have to pay ridiculous shipping fees. Some products don't even match what is in the shop.
What to do after being scammed? - eCommerce Scams
It is tough to get a refund after you've already paid for the products on online shops. It's virtually impossible to get your money back. However, here are a few things you can do after being victimized:
- Collect all evidence available. It includes email receipts, transaction numbers, and the photos of the products.
- Report to the online shopping platform. Some online shops don't sell directly to you. They allow sellers on their website to sell products. Report the incident through their email or phone lines. They might not be able to refund you fully. But, they can at least suspend the culprit.
- Give a heads up to your bank. Let your bank know to watch out for questionable activities in your account.
- Report the incident to consumer watch. Your government may have agencies where you can report such incidents. American citizens can contact the FTC. Canada has Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre. The UK has ActionFraud. And Australians can report to ScamWatch.
Online financial transactions are not the only ones at risk. The popularity of dating applications opens it to scammers. They often use fake identities and are known to "catfish" users of the app.
Scammers will gain your trust in different ways. They will typically engage you in conversation. Eventually, they will express interest to achieve your full attention and trust. Forging connection is their key to gather valuable information. Some may pretend to have personal emergencies and request for money.
What to do after being scammed? - Dating Scams
It is essential to take note of red flags early on. Remember that anyone can create profiles. A typical goal of scammers in dating apps is to steal your identity or ask for money.
- Report the profile to the dating application or website. It is better if you can call customer hotline to get an immediate response.
- Take note of the information you've shared. You may have mentioned essential pieces of information. Your birthday, address, and other data may be used to impersonate you.
- Report to the police if you think there is a possibility of identity theft. You may have to go directly to the police station to file a report. Note that you cannot dial 911 unless you feel that you are in immediate danger.
- Change all of your passwords across different online accounts. Specifically, your financial platforms and social media.
Tech Support Scams
Tech Support scams come in different forms. The oldest way is a call pretending to be a representative from a reputable company. They may offer their services or ask you to download fake updates.
More recent efforts are much harder to identify. Some pop-ups and malware would issue fake warnings and ask you to download software. These pop-ups may even look like legitimate warning prompts from Windows. Others would lure you with contact information.
The technical support representative will then ask for payment through different methods. Walmart and iTunes Cards are popular requests. These methods are virtually impossible to trace.
What to do after being scammed? - Tech Support Scams
Tech support scams aim to collect personal information. They might even go as far as control your computer through remote control software. Follow the steps below to avoid further damage.
- Uninstall any applications from the scammer. Also, disconnect your machine from the Internet while doing this.
- Install and update anti-malware applications such as MalwareFox. Run a full scan of your system.
- Contact the actual manufacturer such as Microsoft, if you need further help.
- You can bring your device to a service center if it is still under warranty.
Social Media Scams
Social media's core function is the interaction between an extensive network of people. The ability to share so many things among friends is valuable. However, this rapid spread of information is often vulnerable.
Scammers now focus on catching victims on social media. People willingly share sensitive information on public profiles. People even share fake raffles such as the bikini scam described above. It is getting harder to identify the variety of scams on social media. While there are ways to protect your profile, there will be a time that you'll be a victim of scammers.
What to do after being scammed? - Social Media Scams
It is always important to be vigilant of the things that you share online. Online frauds can use the information you share fraudulent activities just like the dating scams. Furthermore, malware can passes quickly among friends. Follow these tips, in case the worst happens:
- Immediately fix your profile's privacy. Scammers can steal your identity without enough information and your photos.
- Remove people you don’t know personally. It has become easy for us to accept friend requests. However, some may take advantage of your hospitality and gather personal information.
- Report doubtful accounts. It is now easy to report accounts which share malware. Additionally, you can send complaints about businesses which run fake giveaways.
- Change your passwords. Increase security by taking advantage of two-factor authentication. Do the same with your other online accounts.
- Report to your bank if in case your credit card information was stolen. Better freeze the credit card until the resolution of the security issue.
Most of the scams above boil down to one goal. Scammers aim to collect as much personal information to gain access to your financial accounts. Your emails, social media accounts, and other online presence are always at risk. Criminals can even access your data on your computer.
Criminals can do a lot with enough personal information. They can wire transfer money to another account. Some even manage to create fraudulent documents. It can then be used to apply for loans. Online scammers are faster. They only need a few minutes on your account to empty your bank.
What to do after being scammed? - Banking Scams
Taking note of irregular activities in your account is essential. Fast action can save you from losing money and more. Each bank has different processes in dealing with scams. Make sure you know yours very well.
- Contact your company or bank immediately. Put your account on hold and file a report.
- File a police report. Most banks will require an official police report as well. It is necessary especially if you lost money.
- File a fraud alert with the three major credit bureaus. Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion can tag your account as a victim of fraud. You may also consider a security freeze to protect your account further.
- Update your operating system and antimalware. Scammers may be gathering information using a malware installed on your computer. Make sure to run a full scan, too.
Scammers are getting more and more clever nowadays. However, being vigilant and taking the necessary precautions will lessen its likelihood. Acting fast will also save yours from losing money and time. There's no shame in reporting such incidents. Authorities need data, including yours, to further strengthen the current security measures.