What do you do if you’re a victim of fraud? How do you protect yourself in the future?

06/07/2021
A man filling out paperwork related to fraud.

Share


4 steps you should take immediately

As a fraud victim, you have several steps you can take right away to begin fixing the problem.

New research has shown that the FTC received 2.2 million fraud reports from consumers in 2020. Clearly, fraud is a serious problem right now. The challenge is that most people don’t bother to learn about fraud until they fall victim to it.

This post details what you can do if you’ve become a victim of fraud, as well as what you can do to avoid falling victim a second time—or at all. 

Steps to take immediately

1. Find out the type of fraud

Identifying the type of fraud is the first step if you ever fall victim. This is because it determines your subsequent course of action and which laws are applicable to your situation.

According to the FBI, there are 33 types of common fraud. They include credit card fraud, health care fraud, identity theft, investment fraud, prime bank note fraud, reverse mortgage scams, bond fraud, etc.

To pinpoint the specific kind of fraud you’re facing, you have to know whether the crime is internet-based as well as how the fraudulent transaction was processed. You also need details on the financial accounts accessed and the amount of money stolen, if any. It also helps to get an idea of the geographic location of the crime.

Gathering this information will help you figure out where to start.

2. Block all compromised channels

The second step after an incident of fraud is to block all compromised channels. If they’re still accessible, there’s nothing to stop the perpetrators from having another go at it.

For instance, if it was a credit card fraud, it’s imperative that the compromised credit card be immediately destroyed, invalidated, and a new one created and issued in its place. You may even need to change security details such as your PIN, passwords, and the like.

Sometimes, identity thieves may open brand new accounts in your name. In this instance, close all such accounts as you discover them. You can take it a step further by erasing all “strange” charges from your accounts. This is necessary in correcting your credit report.

Typically, the relevant financial institution will have its own steps for dealing with compromised channels. They should be quick to put the steps in motion.

3. Round up your evidence

If you claim to have been a victim of fraud, you must have the evidence to prove it. This is because of two reasons: 1) Proof is necessary in the event of a court case; and 2) evidence is necessary to substantiate the allegation when complaining to the relevant financial institution.

You need to show that you are actually the victim you claim to be, and not involved in the crime. 

Some pieces of evidence that you need to prove that you’ve been a victim of fraud include:

  • Documentation of transactions related to the fraudulent activity
  • All written or electronic messages to and from the perpetrator
  • Documentation of actions you’ve taken since the crime such as correspondence, reports, affidavits, etc.

4. Report to relevant authorities

Fraudulent activities thrive in darkness. Identifying and, more importantly, reporting them is crucial to recovery. When reporting fraudulent activity, there are numerous institutions that victims should notify. These institutions can aid the investigation process.

Some entities you should contact include:

How to protect yourself in the future

Whether you’ve been a victim of fraud before or not, one thing is certain: It’s not something anyone wants to experience. Thankfully, there are some steps you can take to avoid falling victim to fraud. Let’s discuss them.

1. Don’t release your confidential information recklessly

Your confidential information such as your Social Security number, bank details, passwords, and the rest are jewels of inestimable value to perpetrators. You must handle this information with care.

Typically, agencies and other institutions won’t call you out of the blue asking for such details. Many of them already have that information or require you to provide it in person, at their physical office. Any messages or calls demanding such details should immediately send up red flags.

You would do well to burn or shred any document containing those details when you’re done with it. Never simply throw such documents in the recycle bin. Identity theft happens in various ways, and dumpster diving is one of them.   

2. Be mindful of coercive tactics

It’s the nature of malicious entities to compel their prospective victims to take specific action quickly, like making a payment or providing some important information. This is to make sure the potential victim doesn’t have time to ask questions and discover the hoax. 

Authentic businesses and government agencies typically provide a reasonable time frame within which action should be taken. If you’re being pressed, pump the brakes and ask questions.  

3. Watch out for odd payment methods

The goal of fraudsters is always to vanish into thin air once they hit the home run, so be mindful of payment methods that don’t leave much of a paper trail. Once requests for payment via gift cards and money transfer services come into the picture, step all the way back!

4. Always talk to a trustworthy, knowledgeable person

You’re never too smart to fall victim when it comes to fraud. However, there are almost always telltale signs that are red flags. Whenever a situation starts looking fishy, ask around. Good places to make inquiries are your financial institution and the local police station.

Contact the agency it looks like a message came from via its official channels. A simple search on the internet will give you this information. Don’t rely on the contact details provided in the suspect message.

5. Use fraud alerts and credit freezes

Fraud alerts and credit freezes are ways to protect your credit. Fraud alerts make it tough for identity thieves to open credit accounts in your name. This is because a business must verify the opener’s identity before issuing the new credit in your name. 

A credit freeze makes it impossible for anyone, including you, to open a new credit account while it’s in place. To open a new credit account, you’d have to temporarily lift the freeze. This way, you won’t have surprise credit accounts popping up in your name.

If you ever find yourself having to deal with fraud, don’t flounder trying to sort it out all alone. Reach out to Consumer Attorneys. We’re happy to help. 


Contact Us

+1 877-615-1725

info@consumerattorneys.com

Blog

Related Articles

07/05/2022


In the News: Changes by Credit Reporting Bureaus Could Wipe Your Medical Debt From Your Credit Report

In the News: Changes by Credit Reporting Bureaus Could Wipe Your Medical Debt From Your Credit Report

When the SSA enters an individual into its Death Master File, a special code called a deceased indicator is used to mark the consumer as dead. The indicator is then included in a consumer’s credit report, where it appears simply as “deceased.”

12/10/2021


How to Correct a Deceased Indicator on Your Credit Report

Each year in the United States, between 7,000 and 14,000 people are surprised to learn that they are deceased according to the Social Security Administration.

A wedding ring.

10/27/2021


There is an error on my credit report. How can Consumer Attorneys help?

Thanks to Consumer Attorneys, a client was able to recover from multiple credit report errors.

A pile of money.

10/15/2021


Credit reporting errors strike victims when they least expect it

Consumer Attorneys has helped countless victims of credit reporting inaccuracies and is here for you.

An error showing up on a mobile phone.

08/07/2021


What are credit reporting errors?

Your credit report can contain some mistakes

A frustrated man seeing that his credit report is affected by a mixed file error.

06/19/2021


What is a mixed file?

A mixed file can cause your credit score to plummet

A man looking at a chart on a tablet.

06/10/2021


What’s the difference between a FICO score and a credit score?

A FICO score can actually impact your credit score.

A thumbs up.

06/08/2021


What are considered good credit scores?

Credit scores have different rankings and meanings

A man that is upset about a credit reporting error.

05/28/2021


Real Stories About Credit Reporting Errors

Consumer Attorneys help clients sort out credit reporting issues

An image of a coronavirus.

05/24/2021


How has COVID-19 impacted credit reporting errors?

Amongst the many issues created by the pandemic, credit reporting mistakes are multiplying in the wake of new legislation and policy.

A picture of a clock, showing how long a dispute can take.

05/19/2021


How Long Credit Reporting Disputes Take

It may be quicker than you think with the right partner

A report with credit cards in front of it.

05/17/2021


What’s the difference between a credit score and a credit report?

You may use the terms "credit report" and "credit score" interchangeably, but they're very different.

Mixing or splitting a file is one of the most common errors made by credit bureaus, as well as one of the biggest headaches for consumers.

01/04/2022


Why Is Someone Else’s Information Listed on My Credit Report?

From renting an apartment to taking out personal or business loans, credit reports play an important role in the lives of consumers. They’re often a determining factor in whether a bank or other lender makes a decision in favor of the consumer.

The picture shows a sad man who looked at his credit report.

11/17/2021


Why the Credit Bureaus Confuse Information Between Consumers

The real problem with credit reports is the astounding number of errors!

02/01/2021


What Does “Mixed” Mean on a Credit Report?

Sometimes a consumer’s credit report can get dragged down by dead weight ... literally.

The picture shows a fraud thief who is trying to steal information. One's Social Security number, along with an address, is the most valuable piece of information identity thieves can get their hands on.

11/22/2021


Key Information Regarding Identity Theft

One's Social Security number, along with an address, is the most valuable piece of information identity thieves can get their hands on.

 image depicting symbols of identity theft

11/02/2021


What are the early indicators of identity theft?

Several telltale signs can give away the fact you've been a victim of identity theft early.

A police car.

10/22/2021


Why should you file a police report after identity theft?

Does it serve a purpose if you don’t know how to find the thief?

A home that's ready to be purchased.

10/13/2021


How to protect your identity during the homebuying process

Six ways to secure your identity when buying a home

A doctor in a hospital.

08/31/2021


How does medical identity theft occur?

What to look out for to make sure it doesn’t happen to you

A man stealing data.

08/10/2021


Distinguishing credit card fraud from identity theft

The two are not the same thing

A globe featuring the United States.

06/18/2021


The top 10 states with the most identity theft

Some states have more cases of identity theft than others

People dealing with identity theft.

05/28/2021


What is at risk when someone steals your identity?

The dangers of identity theft

A frustrated man who had his identity stolen.

05/26/2021


What is identity theft and how does it happen?

Identity theft is a criminal offense that damages victims’ finances and reputation

View all articles