I Think I’m Being Scammed. What do I do?
Here are some general rules of thumb to avoid being defrauded:
- If you suspect someone is trying to scam you, do not respond in any way. Ignore any suspicious emails, letters, and pop-ups boxes. If it’s a telephone call, hang up; if a person comes to your door, close the door and walk away. (If the person says they’re from an organization you recognize, report the incident to that organization immediately.) Resist the temptation to try to outsmart the perpetrator. Remember: you can’t con a con.
- If you’ve already responded to a scam, end all further communication. A smart fraudster will try to re-establish contact with someone who gave them hope of succeeding in their scam. But don’t be tempted, no matter what they say. If necessary, cancel your email address or phone number to end contact with the person.
- If you’ve given a fraudster:
- Bank account information: contact your bank immediately. The bank can put a fraud alert on your accounts, close any account that were compromised, and help you change your passwords or PINs.
- Credit or debit card information: contact the number on the back of your card. The credit or debit card company can close the card account.
- Personal information (especially your social security number.) Call one of the credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax, or TransUnion). They can suggest the best way to protect your credit file from compromise.
- If things have gone too far and you are already involved in communications with a fraud operator or have sent money and think you may have been scammed, refer to Resources and follow the steps appropriate for your situation.
- Review your credit reports at least annually for entries you do not recognize. Consumers have a right to an annual free credit report from each credit bureau. Any questionable entries should be reported to the appropriate company.
- Limit the personal information you publish on social networking sites. Social networking sites are easy pickings for crooks. Use your privacy settings to limit access to your information to fewest number of people possible. And there is no reason anyone needs to know your social security number, your bank or card numbers, your mother’s maiden name, your birth place, your birth date and year, or your favorite passwords.
- If someone tells you they represent a company that you deal with, contact that company using the phone number on your statement or in the phone book and ask to speak to their fraud or security department to report the contact. They will want to know if their company is being misrepresented by criminals.