loved one is getting scammedWe’ve all heard about the signs of a scam, but what can you do if your loved one is getting scammed? This is an unfortunate reality of today, as scams are more prevalent than ever before. In fact, the Federal Trade Commission determined that there were 1.1 million incidents of reported fraud in 2017, with 21% of those victims reporting a loss — amounting to a shocking total fraud loss of $905 million. It should be noted that those numbers likely don’t encompass all fraud cases and losses due to the likelihood of victims under-reporting out of shame or embarrassment. Since anyone can fall for a scam, it’s best to know what you can do for a family member or loved one if you notice that they, too, are getting conned. Keep reading as we detail exactly that.

Determine if they’re getting scammed

One of the first steps that you’ll want to take? Verify if your loved one has gotten or is really getting scammed. Check for signs of scams, and ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is someone trying to get personal information from my loved one?
  • Is someone trying to obtain money from them?
  • Is my loved one getting unsolicited offers for free trips, get-rich-quick schemes or others?
  • Has my loved one been making odd transactions, like wiring money?
  • Is my loved one acting oddly, like avoiding any talks about money or telling me all about a new friend that’s helping them with something related to their personal or financial information?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, it’s possible that your loved one is getting scammed. Keep in mind that this isn’t a comprehensive list of all the signs of scams, as you’ll realize by reading our scams blog. To fully confirm what’s going on, you’ll also want to proceed to the next step: a chat with the possible scam victim.

Find the chance to chat

Before you take any action to help them, it’s best to first have a talk with your loved one. While the idea of having a conversation may fill you with dread, it’s still a good idea to chat and try to find out what’s happening. By doing so, you can give your loved one the chance to take charge and steer away from a potentially unfortunate situation.

We should note that not everyone will respond well to a chat about how they may be getting scammed, so it’s important to go into the conversation with an open mind. During the talk, try to be understanding and patient. On top of that, remember that given the right circumstances and con person, anyone can be scammed, as a veteran scammer has claimed. As such, you’ll want to avoid pointing fingers or accusing them of falling for a scam, as neither will likely result in a positive outcome.

When you approach your loved one to discuss the situation and find out what’s happening, these points should be on your mind: it’s very common for scam victims to feel embarrassed, guilty, defensive or a combination of these emotions when you approach them. In the case that the family member or friend has been scammed, empathy and the reassurance that getting scammed is something that can happen to anyone can go a long way — even to the point of rendering it easier for them to recognize the situation for what it is.

This helps with setting up the stage and opening up the floor for your next step: ask your loved one if they want to do anything about the situation. Resist the temptation to skip this step and jump straight to “fixing” the problem yourself. Scam victims may feel that they’re powerless when they’ve been scammed, so it’s helpful to give them opportunities to take the reins and decide what they’d like to do next, enabling them to feel more empowered.

Help them cut ties with the scammer

If your loved one is getting scammed and they want to take action to resolve the situation, you’ll want to provide a helpful hand. Understand that they may want to take this step on their own, but if they do want assistance, here’s how you can help:

If they agree to it, you’ll want to break their ties with the scammer as soon as possible, making sure that all contact with the criminals immediately stops. This is an important step to take, as you wouldn’t want your loved one to become susceptible to recovery scams.

Before ceasing communications, you’ll first want to find out how your loved one has been contacting the scammer. After that, ask what contact information they’ve provided. If your loved one has been contacting the scammer via email and phone, for example, you’ll want to not only block the scammers from reaching them through either channel, but also take screenshots of their communications (e.g., a call log for phone contact and copies of any emails sent and received). It may also make sense to change the victim’s contact information (e.g., close their email account and open a new one or change the phone number) to prevent the same scammers from contacting them again.

Assist with reporting the scam

If your loved one is comfortable with you doing so, you can find out what they’ve provided to the scammers (e.g., money, personal information, credit card number, etc.), and you can support the scam victim by reporting the crime to the necessary entities and individuals. If you find out that your friend has shared their bank account and social security number with a scammer, for example, you’ll want to make sure that your friend contacts their bank, credit card issuers, credit reporting agencies, local police, local agencies, federal agencies and more. To find out who you should report to and what else should be done if your loved one gets scammed, take a look at our guide to recovering from a scam.

It can be an emotionally turbulent experience for someone to discover that they’ve been scammed. For that reason, even if you follow our advice and offer your support to your loved one with the best intentions, things may not go as smoothly as you’d like. If that happens to you, remember to not take things personally and to continue being patient and understanding — even if there is an immense amount of pushback from the victim. Make sure to reach out for support for yourself too if you’ve fallen victim to a scam.

Now that you know more about what you can do if a loved one gets scammed, discover some precautions you, your family and your friends can take to avoid getting swindled by following our scams blog.