If you have been caught in the web of an online scam, then the first thing you need to do is not panic.
With over $1.9 billion in successful phishing attack scams and other fraud, you are not alone. The bad news is that you have fallen prey to a scam designed to steal your information or steal your money. The good news is that there are things that you can do to help mitigate the fallout from falling victim to an online scam.
Online scams range from phishing attacks that may secretly install keyloggers that copy your passwords and send them to the attacker, to phone or text scams that trick you into sharing your account information. Because of this, each scam may require a slightly different response. While it is virtually impossible to compile a comprehensive list that will cover every scam in the book, there are some key courses of action that stay roughly the same, no matter the situation.
While each type of scam will require slightly varied responses, we have created a quick checklist of actions to take if you have been scammed:
- Assemble all of the information and records you have relating to the scam. If you provided the person who scammed you with a payment or other sensitive information, make sure to keep copies of all relevant documents and records on hand. These can assist your bank and others, like the police, in figuring out exactly what happened. It’s very easy to become confused about what was stolen or how something was accessed, and these records can prove vital in determining what course of action to take.
- Change any passwords, update your antivirus, or have an IT professional check your computer. Scammers will often ask for remote access or load malicious software onto your computer to skim things like bank login passwords and other sensitive data. If you discover a fraudulent login or suspect this to be the case, go ahead and change your password immediately. If you cannot gain access to your account, then contact your provider immediately whether it is a bank or some other provider.
If you are concerned about a virus or other type of malware infecting your computer, contact a trusted IT professional to help review your computer, tablet, or smartphone. It goes without saying that you should already be running an antivirus program on your computer, but do make sure that it’s updated to the latest version and virus definitions.
- Contact your bank. Notify your bank, as soon as possible, that your financial information may have been compromised. Banks can flag potentially compromised accounts to notify Tellers and other personnel if any suspicious activity shows up on the account or a new face tries to conduct business in your stolen name.
If you know an account number or debit card number has been stolen, your bank can close the account and stop the scammer from spending any more of your money. They can also help you begin the process of reporting the fraud and limiting your liability. If necessary, they may even advise you to contact the major credit reporting bureaus and freeze your credit. Freezing your credit only makes sense in certain cases, though, where you know someone has your personal information like your social security number(SSN). Otherwise, you may just need to place a fraud alert with one out of the three major credit bureaus.
- Contact the police and file a report. It would seem that this should be one of the first steps, but your bank can help advise you if you need to file a police report. If an account login has been compromised but no other action taken, a police report may not be necessary. Filing a police report should be addressed on a case-by-case basis.
- Monitor your accounts, credit, and other details. If you take any or all of the previous four steps, it can slow the bad guys down. Sometimes credentials are stolen only to be used later. Your data may be compromised as part of a larger breach like recent cases where large retailers or local governments leak sensitive information. It is important that you continue to exercise diligence when it comes to your information. A stolen SSN now can lead to fraudulent tax returns later. If you fall victim to a scam, you don’t always need to freeze your credit, but you should always monitor your accounts, credit, and other financial details just in case.
Online scams really are no fun and often are not so easy to avoid. They are also increasingly common. There are many helpful resources out there that deal with specific types of fraud, such as the official US Government website dedicated to Identity Theft. If you suspect identity theft is in play, this government website helps you formulate a recovery plan.
As always, if you suspect your financial information associated with First Palmetto Bank has been compromised, then please reach out to your local branch during business hours. If you are worried that your debit card has been compromised and it is after hours or on the weekend, call the number listed on the back of your debit card to get help immediately.