What to Do When You Get Scammed?

Panic, disappointment, and anger: they’re the feelings you get when you realize you fell for a scam. 

Maybe you unthinkingly shared your Social Security Number over the phone when someone claiming to be the IRS called you. Or perhaps, after checking the delivery status on several packages, you followed a predatory link to pay duties when you shouldn’t have. 

Scammers use all sorts of tricks to steal your information — from phone calls and emails to social media — but fraud is always stressful no matter how they do it. To help you keep your cool during this anxious time, read this guide on what to do after you’ve been scammed. 

Don’t Beat Yourself Up

First of all, don’t be too hard on yourself. Scammers can catch even the savviest of consumers. They pull off cons designed to be convincing and difficult to recognize. 

Go Through Your Statements

Read over bank, line of credit or credit card, and personal loan statements to ensure none of your existing accounts are affected. Highlight any activity that you can’t account for and keep it handy for the next step.

Notify the Officials: Financial Institutions

Call your financial institutions as soon as you think something is fishy. You’ll want to let any of the following companies know that your personal information has been compromised:

  • Banks
  • Online direct lenders if you have an online installment loan open currently
  • Line of credit or credit card companies
  • IRS if you believe your fraudster will cause questionable activity in your tax file
  • Wire transfer companies if you sent cash through Western Union

While on the call with these institutions, explain the situation. Let them know if you caught any fraudulent activity in your file.

You’ll also want to put a flag on these accounts if possible, and they’ll let you know if they have any additional steps to protect your finances.

Check Your Credit Report

The three major credit reporting agencies offer a free credit check each year. You’ll want to check each of these reports to see if any show fraudulent activity. 

You’ll want to highlight any activity that looks suspicious, keeping an eye out for any inaccuracies in your contact details, SSN, and existing accounts. Pay close attention to current personal loans, lines of credit, auto loans, and more. 

While doing that, watch out for any accounts you didn’t open. If your scammer has your SSN and financial details, they can open fraudulent direct payday loans and cash advances. 

Flag Your File and Dispute Fraud

If you spot something that doesn’t belong, reach out to the reporting agency that shows the error. Each agency has a way to dispute fraud on their website. 

Even if you don’t find anything unusual in your check, follow Equifax’s, Experian’s, and TransUnion’s separate identity theft portals. You can flag your account this way and freeze your file with each agency to prevent any future fraud from taking place. 

Change Passwords

Go through all your financial accounts and reset their passwords, making sure you use unique, strong passwords each time. This helps lock out your scammer from any online accounts.

Bottom Line: Learn to Spot the Signs

Being a victim of fraud is scary, frustrating, and exhausting. It takes a lot of effort and time to clean up, but these tips can help you recover. Afterwards, learn how to spot the signs of a scam, so you never have to deal with identity theft again.

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Article Author Details

Mila Jones

Mila Jones is a farmer of words in the field of creativity. She is an experienced independent content writer with a demonstrated history of working in the writing and editing industry. She is a multi-niche content chef who loves cooking new things.