No one wants to think about what to do if they are the victim of online fraud, but being familiar with the most important steps to take could help the whole incident become a lot less devastating.
State versus Federal Level
Fraud can be on a state or federal level in the US. If federal, the Department of Justice would be involved in the case. A case is federal depending on:
* The type of fraud
* The amount of money stolen
* The laws violated (federal, state or both)
* If public services were used, such as the U.S. Postal Service or Medicare
* The location of the crime; that is, within a state, or across state or national borders
Types of Fraud to Look Out For
Here are the main types of fraud to look out for:
* Telemarketing fraud, trying to sell fake goods or services
* Mail fraud
* Credit card and check fraud
* Identity theft
* Bank fraud
* Dating fraud
* Pyramid or Ponzi schemes
* Internet fraud
* Health care and insurance fraud
* Pension and trust fund fraud
* Fraud related to securities, commodities, and other investments
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What to Do If You Are a Victim
This will depend in part on what kind of fraud you have fallen victim to, but the best policy is to inform the people who need to know right away so your legal protection can kick in. For example, if you’re the victim of credit card theft, the sooner you report it, the less likely you are to be found liable for the fraudulent charges on the card.
In this case, you would notify the credit card company and file a police report. Start gathering paperwork as needed, such as a copy of the scamming web page, receipts, bank statements and so on.
1. File a police report
This will alert the police to the fraud and help put your legal protection into place in relation to, for example, what you might or might not be liable for if someone has stolen your credit card and is on a shopping spree.
2. Notify the bank and credit card company
If you used a debit card, you have 48 hours to report a fraudulent charge.
If you are having credit card issues, phone the issuer right away to freeze your account and report the status of the card, such as lost, stolen, or your statement as showing fraudulent charges.
3. Deal with the credit bureaus
Contact the three main credit reporting bureaus, Equifax, Experian and TransUnion to file a Fraud Victim Statement. Also ask them to issue a security freeze on your credit report so that no one will be able to try to get extended credit on the basis of your credit history and score.
4. Report Any Phishing
Go to https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0003-phishing to report any phishing emails you’ve received, or may have fallen prey to.
5. Deal with identity theft proactively
Go to https://www.identitytheft.gov/ Tell them what happened, and formulate an action plan for recovery.
6. Don’t be embarrassed
Experts suspect that a lot of fraud is going unreported because people are embarrassed to admit they have been tricked by a phishing email and so on. But loss of money and personal data can have serious consequences. Plus, the more that is reported, the better chance there is of stopping the cybercriminals and helping save others from being defrauded.