Smart Spending

What to do if You Think You Are Being Scammed

Nobody likes to be taken advantage of.  The sinking feeling that comes with the realization that you have been scammed is terrible.  While the best way to avoid this feeling is to avoid all situations where it could happen, but with the increase of online activity for banks, credit cards, and investments, being swindled is becoming a much more common occurrence.  As soon as you think you are being scammed, the quicker you act the more you can lessen the effects and the more likely the scammer is to be caught.

Bank Scams

If you suspect someone has illegally gained access to your bank account, the first thing you want to do is call your bank.  For weekends and after hours, many banks will have a hotline that you can use in an emergency.  Tell them that you suspect unauthorized activity in the account, and they will most likely put a freeze on your account while the situation is being investigated.  In the meantime, if you use online banking change your passwords, and be sure to call all the companies that automatically draft or deposit to your account that the account has been frozen.  Most likely what will happen is you will need to set up a new account and get a new account number.

Credit Card Scams

There are two ways a person can be scammed with credit cards.  The fraudster can steal the physical card and make transactions, or the perpetrator can steal just the number and related information and use it to make online transactions.  Either way, the process is the same.  First of all, call the credit card company.  They will cancel the card immediately and issue a new one.  Print your statement and circle all the fraudulent charges, this is for your records to make sure you do not end up paying for the charges.  Many companies will require you to sign an affidavit acknowledging that these charges were not made by you.  The card will then investigate the charges and your job is done.  You will not be liable to make even interest payments or late fees on the bogus charges.

Investment Scams

Being scammed with investments is a little different than other scams.  Usually it involves being promised one thing but delivered nothing.  Unlike credit cards or bank scams where you are having something stolen.  The best line of defense against these scams is to stop them before they start.  Know what to look for and how to identify them.  If you do find you have gotten in over your head, check out the SEC Whistleblower site.  You can glean a lot of information on what to do, and you can contact them directly.  It is important to act quickly, as the sooner you catch it, the sooner you might be able to recoup your money.

Having your identity stolen, or being the victim of a scam is hard to reconcile.  Many victims blame themselves for not being prepared or taking the proper precautions.  What is important to remember is it is not your fault; someone else’s shady dealings put you in that position.  You should not be liable, and if you find yourself on the hook for any bad charges, contact your state’s attorney general.  And as soon as you recognize you have been taken advantage of act quickly, close the accounts so no further damage can be done, and alert Stop Fraud.  They have the resources to track down the scam artists and make sure they cannot hurt anyone else.