It happens to the best of us. You are going on with your day when you get a text from a family member who lost their phone. Of course, you help them with the money that they need, only to find out later that it wasn't even them but a scammer! Ouch! Getting scammed is a painful experience. But hey! We are here to help. With useful tips and tricks, we will tell you what you can do after you’ve been scammed and most importantly: what you can do to prevent it! So keep on reading if you want to know the steps you can take and how you can keep it from happening again.
Don’t blame yourself
Maybe you will think, "How could I fall for this?!” Don’t be so hard on yourself. Truth is, everyone is susceptible to falling for a scam. There are tons of different scams that are hard to distinguish from the real deal sometimes. Scammers are getting smarter, and every time you think you know them all, a new scam pops up. The good news is that we already know a lot of famous scam cases and most scams follow the same patterns. Being aware of this is a good first step! But right now you want to know how to deal with the aftermath of falling for a scam and later we talk about preventing it.
So, what can you do if you’ve been scammed?
Always listen to your intuition
Have you ever gotten one of those emails where you’re offered a million-dollar sum because a distant cousin, one that you’ve never heard of, passed away? Of course, it sounds too good to be true. And it is most of the time. This is the case for all scams. If it sounds too good, be aware that it is most likely a scam. It’s better to not take the risk if you aren’t sure of something. Especially when it comes to your money. Trust your instinct and see if you can find information on the matter. In any case, if you have a weird feeling about it, don't go through with it!
Stop communication and block the account
Depending on the type of scam that happened to you, one of the first things you should be doing is blocking the person, number, account, or whoever has decided to scam you. In case of a credit card scam, make sure to freeze your account and report it to your bank or credit card company. And, of course, don’t send any more funds or codes! In the case of a gift card scam, always let the company know so they can update their information for future customers so they don't fall for the same scam.
Tip: keep receipts of the communication as evidence.
What actions do you take?
Depending on the type of scam that has happened to you, there are steps you need to take immediately. The most important ones: securing your accounts and freezing your credit card. But who, what, and where? We’ve broken down the steps you need to follow.
1. Contact your bank or credit card company and block your account
Did you already pay the scammer? Then one of the first things you should do is freeze your bank account. Contact your bank and see if there is a way to get your money back. Keep an eye on any suspicious activity on your account and report immediately to the bank so they can decide what actions are best to take in this situation.
2. Secure your accounts and change your passwords.
Did you give a scammer access to your account? Make sure you change your passwords and, if possible, enable a double verification. It helps to generate a password that is strong and not easily hackable. Trouble remembering that? There’s no need to because there are lots of free vault options where you can safely store your passwords like LastPass.
3. Report what happened to you
Is everything safe and secure? Then it’s time to take the next steps and report what has happened to you. When you have fallen for a scam, there are several institutions you can contact to let them know what has happened to you:
Family and friends
Letting your family and friends know you fell for a scam might feel awkward, but honesty is key. Especially if a scammer reached out to them to ask for money. A scam can happen to anyone! Let them know what happened and the steps you took so they know it has been an accident.
To the authorities
This could be local law enforcement, a consumer protection agency, or a specific online fraud reporting platform. File a police report and report it wherever you can. At the very least, it helps other people stay alert
- Did you give out personal information like a social security number?
Identity theft is not a joke! If you gave out any personal information, visit the page of your local government and follow the instructions immediately.
Got scammed with a gift card?
Make sure you contact the gift card company and inform them about the scam. If you want to know more about this specific type of scam, then it’s a good idea to know how gift card scams work.
Did you pay using cryptocurrency?
In this digital world, you can pay in all sorts of ways. If you used a platform to exchange cryptocurrency, a centralized exchange, you should report the scam to the company. Ask them if it's possible to refund your money. If you used decentralised exchanges then it is unfortunately not possible.
4. Stay cautious and ahead of scammers
Do you find yourself in a similar situation? Don’t fall for it! Secure your data and don't trust the situation if it seems or feels too similar to what has happened to you. Better to be safe than sorry. Look out for unsolicited messages or requests for sensitive information, and never hesitate to verify the legitimacy of any communication. Remember, protecting yourself from scams starts with recognizing and preventing the pattern!
How to avoid it and prevent it in the future
Now you know what steps to take when you have been scammed, but of course, you want to prevent it from happening. That's why it helps to know how you can identify a scam. Do you feel it in your gut something is wrong when reading a message? Before you do anything, open your browser and investigate if there are similar cases that are reported to see if your feelings are right. It also helps to read articles on scams, for example, our article about the best-known scams. This helps you to stay informed about what is happening on the internet when it comes to the latest tricks used by scammers!
Stay informed and stay safe
Frauds, scams: the internet sometimes feels like a battlefield for your privacy, but it doesn't have to be. There are entire movements dedicated to keeping people safe online. Including us! And if you are on the lookout for more information on staying safe online, October is the perfect month. The whole month is Cybersecurity Awareness Month. Our magazine is full of advice as well as more to come so keep reading or come back for more.