you get scammedIn past posts, we’ve covered the signs you’re being scammed and different types of scams, but even if you can recognize the signs of a scam, it’s still possible that you could find yourself a victim of one. That’s because scammers can be tricky. In fact, as a former scammer said in an article by AARP, “… fraud is a crime that can happen to anyone, given the right con man and a victim with the right set of circumstances.” If you get scammed, here are some important steps you should take to mitigate the consequences and potentially better the situation for yourself and others.

Stop interacting with the scammer

It may sound like an obvious point, but one of the first and most important steps you can take after getting scammed is to halt all interactions with the scammer. Block the scammer if you can and stop responding to them. This point is worth emphasizing because it’s easy to fall into denial and not accept that you’ve been conned, but holding on to this kind of mindset can ultimately turn you into easy prey, making it easier for scammers to continue taking advantage of you.

For example, by continuing communication with a scammer, you could make yourself more susceptible to recovery scams, which involve scammers requesting you to pay more money in exchange for getting your stolen money back. This type of scam can be prevented once you fully recognize and accept that you’re dealing with a scammer. As such, make sure to take a step back, acknowledge the situation and then halt your interactions with the culprit.

Contact your bank and credit card company

If you’ve provided payment information, such as your credit card information, to a possible scammer, you’ll want to give your bank and credit card provider a heads-up right away. To do so, contact your bank or issuer using the phone number on the back of your payment card.

Report it to your local police and local agencies

After you’ve been scammed, it may feel pointless to report the incident — scam victims “tend to underreport” or “simply not report at all,” according to CNBC. However, it’s important to report the issue to your local police as soon as possible – especially if the scammer has stolen your money. That’s because your local police and prosecutors should be alerted of the scams. After all, scams are crimes, so they should be reported.

Report it to federal agencies

If you’ve been scammed, you should also file complaints to the relevant federal agencies. According to USA.gov, while federal agencies likely won’t be able to “act on your behalf,” they can “use complaints to record patterns of abuse,” which “helps them take action against a company or industry.” Depending on what type of scam you were subjected to, you may want to report the case to the following agencies:

Federal Communications Commission (FCC): You can file phone-related complaints (e.g., robocalls) to the FCC here. While the FCC doesn’t resolve individual complaints about robocalls and some other types of complaints, the information you provide may be used to shape policy decisions and take action against perpetrators.

Federal Trade Commission (FTC): It also makes sense to file a complaint with the FTC if you’ve been scammed. The FTC accepts complaints about all kinds of scams, of which you can learn more about through its website. The FTC doesn’t resolve individual complaints, but the information from your complaint may be used to assist with investigations and legal proceedings.

To see a more comprehensive list of federal agencies you may want to contact, take a look at this list of federal agencies provided by USA.gov. If the scam occurred over the Internet, it also makes sense to file a complaint with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), which processes complaints related to crimes occurring over the Internet. It’s also a good idea to report the scam to relevant local agencies, such as your state consumer protection office.

Contact the three major credit bureaus

To protect your credit if you’ve given out your sensitive personal or payment information to a scammer, you should also contact the three major credit bureaus, credit reporting agencies that create your credit reports. You’ll want to consider placing a fraud alert, which lets creditors know they should take additional steps when you apply for a new credit account. If you want tighter protection, consider placing a credit freeze, which completely prevents lenders from pulling your credit reports, stopping them from opening new credit accounts in your name — after all, they won’t approve you if they can’t check your credit. Credit freezes are especially helpful for scam victims because they stop scammers from opening unauthorized credit accounts on your behalf.

Either a fraud alert or a credit freeze could make sense if you’ve been scammed, but there are pros and cons that you should be aware of before placing either. To learn more about further implications, take a look at our post comparing credit freezes with fraud alerts.

Look out for future scams

After alerting the needed parties and taking the necessary actions, it’s a good idea to understand that you may be targeted for another scam. This means you’ll want to recognize signs of scams, so you can better identify a scam in the future.

To learn more about scams and how to recognize them, follow our scams blog.