On the internet, online scams are almost as old as the internet itself. As the internet has increased in reach and sophistication, scams have become more sophisticated, posing a risk to everybody who utilizes it. The rising convergence of internet, phone, and cloud services have further added to the problem by providing new attack routes for unscrupulous actors.
To make matters worse, con artists are adept at exploiting people’s fears and sensitivities by launching new schemes based on tragic events. As the COVID-19 pandemic raged on, the FTC saw a 45 percent increase in identity theft and fraud complaints in 2020. In 2019, there were 4.8 million cases, up from 3.3 million the previous year.
If you haven’t been a victim of a scam yet, it’ll only be a matter of time until you are. To protect your data, reputation, and resources, it’s vital to understand the various sorts of scams that exist and how to respond to them.
Scammers have a knack for persuading others. They try to get our money or sensitive personal information, such as our Social Security number or account details, by calling, emailing or texting us. They’re also really good at what they do. Here’s what to do if you paid or offered your personal information to someone you suspect is a fraudster.
What to Do If the Scammer Contacts You?
Do not prolong the chat if you realize you are being conned. Put the phone down. Don’t respond to emails or letters sent to you by scammers. Block the fraudster from contacting you if you’ve been defrauded online. Ignore the scammer if they come to your door, call you, or send you a message, but make a note of what happened so you can report it.
What to Do If You’ve Given the Scammer Access to Your Computer or Device?
Scammers may request access to your computer so that they can control it remotely. They could, for example, pretend to be from your internet provider and explain that they need to resolve a technical issue. The scammer could have infected your computer with a virus or stolen your credentials and financial data. To keep safe, make sure your computer’s security software is up to date, conduct a scan, and delete anything it finds. After that, take extra care to protect your sensitive information.
To regain ownership of your phone number, contact your service provider. Change your account password once you’ve done that. Also, look for illegal charges or changes on your credit card, bank account, and other financial accounts. If you come across any, notify the company or organization. Then go to IdentityTheft.gov to figure out what to do next.
What to Do If the Scammer Has Got Your Personal Information?
If you suspect that your account information or PIN has been stolen, notify your bank right away so that your account can be protected. Keep an eye on your bank statements once you’ve informed your bank about the scam and search for any strange activities. Check your credit score to see if there are any credit applications that you are unfamiliar with.
If you fear your password has been discovered, change it right away. You should change your password on any other accounts if you’ve used the same one. Make sure your password is strong by including numbers and unusual characters. You may add extra security to your account on several websites. ‘Two-factor authentication’ is the term for this. Additionally, go to IdentityTheft.gov to understand what precautions you should take, including how to check your credit, to be extra careful. Make a strong new password. If you have the same password elsewhere, you should change it as well in order to ensure complete safety.
What to Do If You Have Paid the Scammer?
This is the worst scenario, and hence, it is crucial to always take precautionary measures always in order to ensure this does not happen. However, if such a circumstance does take place, then you need to contact the credit card or debit card’s issuing business or bank. Inform them that the charge was bogus. Request that the transaction is reversed and your money is refunded. If you send the money using an app, you must report the fraudulent transaction to the money transfer service’s company and ask if the payment can be reversed. Report the fraud to your credit card company or bank if the app was linked to a credit card or debit card. Inquire if the fee can be reversed.
Report a refund or recovery scam if you’ve lost money or have information on the company or fraudster that called you.
- to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at ReportFraud.ftc.gov
- to your state’s attorney general
When you report scammers, you are assisting law enforcement and alerting people in your community about the scam.