What to Do if You Get Scammed?
Online scams are almost as old as the web itself. As the internet has evolved, the scope and complexity of scams have evolved with it, posing a risk to anyone online. The increased convergence of internet, phone and cloud services has only served to amplify the threat, providing bad actors with multiple avenues of attack.
To make matters worse, scammers are experts at taking advantage of tragic events to unveil all-new scams, preying on people’s fears and vulnerabilities. For example, as the COVID-19 pandemic raged on, the FTC reported a 45% increase in identity theft and fraud cases in 2020. The cases numbered some 4.8 million, up from 3.3 million in 2019.
If you haven’t already been the victim of a scam, chances are it’s just a matter of time. Knowing the kinds of scams out there and what to do in response is important to protect your information, reputation, and resources.
Pro tip: A dedicated security app can be an important first line of defense against scams and fraud. Clario provides real-time security monitoring of your devices. If your personal details are compromised, such as in a data breach, it instantly alerts, helps you re-secure your accounts and shuts down any potential pathway for scams. Start a free trial today to stay safe from scams.
- How to Tell if You’re Being Scammed
- Types of Scams
- What to Do and How to Recover if You’ve Been Scammed
- How to Avoid Scams in the Future
How to Tell if You’re Being Scammed
Regardless of the type of scam, many scammers employ similar methods to achieve their goal. Often, they resort to high-pressure sales tactics in an effort to get you to make a quick decision. As part of this strategy, many scammers will present an opportunity as a limited-time offer.
More often than not, this sounds too good to be true. They promise great riches and rewards, with little to no real risk — clearly not how things can be in real life.
The vast majority of scams also involve money transfers, using a check or wire transfer. Some, such as Craigslist scams, may involve sending a fake PayPal email in an attempt to get you to send money.
Another big warning sign is a lack of detailed contact information, or conflicting information. Either way, it will result in a vague, incomplete picture, perfect for a scammer who doesn’t want to get caught.
Types of Scams
While by no means exhaustive, here are a few of the most common types of online fraud and scams to watch out for.
Phishing scams are one of the most common types of scams. They involve using social engineering to con individuals into giving away important, sensitive information, such as passwords and banking details.
Identity theft is one of the most terrifying types of scams. The scammer uses a person’s identity to open lines of credit, take out loans and generally wreak havoc on a person’s credit score and reputation.
Credit Card Fraud
Credit card fraud involves using a malicious website masquerading as a legitimate one to convince someone to pay for something using a credit card. Unfortunately, the site is designed to harvest credit card numbers from unsuspecting victims.
Also known as the 419 scam, this scam takes the form of a message claiming to have been sent on behalf of a Nigerian prince. It involves asking for an investment with the promise of a return many times larger.
Online Dating Scam
The rise of online dating apps and services have helped modernize one of the oldest scams in the book. A scammer poses as a boyfriend or girlfriend, wooing the target and getting them to lower their guard. Once the time is right, the scammer asks the victim for money, gifts or help paying bills.
What to Do and How to Recover if You’ve Been Scammed
There are a number of steps you should take if you think you’ve been scammed. They can help you recover money and mitigate the damage, but the specific steps depend on the particular scam you’re a victim of.
- If you were tricked into giving a scammer your credit card or banking information, and money has been stolen from your bank account, the first step is to contact your financial institution and put a hold on any payments. The FTC recommends immediately calling the card issuer and reporting the charge as fraudulent. The faster you act, the more likely you are to get your money back or, at the very least, minimize how much the scammers make off with.
- The same goes for virtually any kind of financial transaction. Whether it be a gift card, wire transfer, cryptocurrency or any other payment method, contact the company that issued the payment and report it as fraudulent.
- Things are a little trickier if you’re the victim of identity theft. Swift action is critical to minimize the damage someone can do with your information. Immediately go to IdentifyTheft.gov, file a report and put a recovery plan into action.
- Similarly, if a scammer has gained access to your passwords, it’s important to change them as soon as possible, choosing something that is secure and hard to guess.
- If a scammer has gained access to, or stolen your phone, you should immediately contact your wireless provider to stop anyone from accessing your account. You may also want to use iOS or Android’s built-in tools to remotely wipe the device, thereby preventing the scammer from continuing to gather data from it.
- Report any scams or fraud to the FTC. Reporting fraud helps the FTC build a case and increases the likelihood of bringing a scammer to justice.
Some individuals have started taking their revenge on scammers, scambaiting them in an attempt to waste their time. Is this something you should do? What are the risks? Read our blog to find out what you need to know about getting back at scammers.
How to Avoid Scams in the Future
One of the most successful tools scammers have is pressure. They will often try to pressure you into making a decision before you have time to think about what they’re asking. This may include demanding a very specific action, such as some type of payment that can only be made a certain way.
Therefore, one of the most important things you can do is to take a moment and think about what the person wants.
Were you expecting this call or email? Is this an organization or business you normally interact with? What is the person asking you to do? Are they insisting some action only be done a certain way?
Even if you’ve received a phone call or email from an organization you normally do business with, don’t click any links or do anything while on the phone call. Instead call the organization back using a published phone number and verify the legitimacy of the communication you received.
You can also change your iPhone or Android settings to only allow phone calls from individuals in your address book. While it is true that any calls from individuals outside your address book will go to voicemail, it will then allow you to evaluate these calls without any pressure.
Being the victim of fraud or a scam can be a frustrating and terrifying experience. However, like with many things, to be forewarned is to be forearmed. Understanding the kinds of threats, and the appropriate responses, can go a long way toward protecting you from scams, mitigating the damage and recovering any money should you fall victim to one.
As with many online threats, speed is of the essence. The faster you take action, the less damage you are likely to suffer as a result of an online scam.
Pro tip: For added protection, install Clario’s free 7-day trial (no credit card needed). Clario can help protect your identity, secure your data, protect your banking and transactions, and notify you the instant something suspicious happens. If something does go wrong, 24/7 human support provides the assistance you need to mitigate the damage and get back on track.