Realizing you’ve fallen victim to a scam is never fun. Did you check your bank account and find a bunch of transactions that you’re certain wasn’t you having a tipsy online shopping moment after a couple of wines? Maybe you ordered something online and it never showed up. Or maybe you thought you were chatting to your bank and ended up giving out personal information to a fraudster.
It happens. Scams are getting more and more advanced and it’s becoming increasingly difficult to spot those red flags, so it’s important not to beat yourself up. All is not lost!
The first step is to confirm you’ve been scammed. This might be abundantly obvious to you based on the fact your social accounts have been hacked or your bank card has been used overseas, but if you’re unsure whether what’s happened is fraudulent, a quick Google search can often confirm that you’ve fallen victim to a known scam. If you’re still unsure, contact your local authorities to get final confirmation.
The next step is to report the scam. If it involves your bank or financial institution in any way, for example if you’ve paid money from your account or had your details used to purchase things you didn’t authorize, contact them as soon as possible. You shouldn’t have to wait for business hours to call them, either, as the fraud department should be open 24/7.
In many cases, your bank will be able to attempt to recover your funds due to guarantees that come with your debit or credit card. Transactions can be reversed and lost funds can often be claimed back, even if it takes a little while. In the meantime, they’ll be able to block and reissue a new card to prevent the scammer from making any more purchases.
The next step is to report your scam to your local police department, particularly if it relates to identity theft, financial crime or investment fraud, including cryptocurrency. Remember not to call the emergency number. Instead, seek out the details of the police or regulator in your state or country.
Getting your money back after being scammed online is probably your biggest concern. The good news is, your bank can recover lost funds in many cases. However, more advanced scams like cryptocurrency and investment scams could be harder to recover, depending on the method of payment you used to transfer the funds to the scammer.
When it comes to gift card scams, like if a scammer forced you to purchase gift cards to make a payment, contacting the police, along with the provider of the gift card, e.g. Google or iTunes, can be helpful in freezing the gift card and recovering some of your funds from the provider.
Time is one of the most critical aspects of recording funds from online scams, so act as soon as you know something isn’t right to give yourself the best chance of claiming your money back.
Online scams can often compromise more than just your bank balance. When a scammer accesses your personal details, it’s important to take steps to protect your identity. In Australia and New Zealand, IDCARE is a charity providing cyber support to individuals with identity concerns following fraudulent online activity.
Your local police department can also provide guidance on how to protect your identity after being scammed, and the extent to which you need to protect yourself.
Emma Edwards is a finance copywriter and blogger, on a mission to humanize the financial services industry by creating meaningful content that’s accessible and empowering. You’ll find her penning money tips at her blog, The Broke Generation, sharing financial insights on Instagram, or injecting life into content for her business clients.