If you’ve been scammed, you might be feeling an overwhelming sense of shame, anger, or confusion right now. You might not want to tell anyone that you’ve been duped, but the sooner you follow the steps outlined below, the better.
Once you realize that you’ve been ripped off, it is vital to contact any banks and credit card companies where you have accounts. Cancel all your cards and ask customer service to review your information for suspicious transactions.
You should also look into establishing a credit freeze–or at least a fraud alert–with the major credit score bureaus. If the scammers stole your identity, it can have major repercussions on your credit. Act fast!
Too many of us use the same passwords on multiple sites. Take the time now to update your login information on every site. That includes banking and credit cards, email, and even your Netflix account. Better safe than sorry, right?
Here’s the best way to overhaul your passwords. First, install the ultra-secure password manager LastPass on all your devices. Then use a random password generator like this one to create safe, strong passwords for each account.
Senior citizens may be particularly unwilling to reveal what happened. They may be embarrassed or scared that their relatives will think they can’t take care of themselves. Unfortunately, scammers often target retirees. Only an estimated 14% of scam victims report the crime. But failing to report only allows those fraudsters to flourish. Even if you can’t get your money back, you can at least help shut down the scam.
There are a number of ways you can report the scam. However, your first stops should be the Federal Trade Commission and then your local police department. Depending on the specific type of fraud, you might need to report to other agencies as well, such as the FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center or the Better Business Bureau. The FTC can help you figure out a plan to do this.
Scammers steal much more than just money. They also rob you of your security and trust. As if that wasn’t bad enough, you also need to make peace with the fact that few scammers are ultimately brought to justice. You may never get closure, which can be tough to deal with emotionally.
If you’re worried that friends and family might judge you–or even blame you–for being the victim of a scam, look elsewhere for support. You might find that talking to a counselor is easier and more productive.