By Jeremy Gin on April 5th, 2011 • 7 comments
Being a victim of fraud can be an overwhelming experience for anyone. Not only do you have to worry about the financial implications of the fraud, many people feel embarrassed for having fallen victim. But fraud victims should not feel alone—millions are victimized by fraud every year. Today, there are powerful tools to protect yourself, protect other consumers and shut down fraudsters. Here is what you can do if you’ve been hit by online fraud:
First things first – take care of your personal finances. If you believe a fraudster has access to your bank account, credit card, or other financial information, call the relevant financial institution to report the fraud and protect yourself from further harm. In the unfortunate case that you wired money, used a money order, or used Western Union, it may not be possible for you to recover lost funds. However, if you used a credit card (which we always recommend when shopping online) with strong fraud protection you may be able to seek a chargeback. If you believe you’ve been a victim of identity theft, you’ll want to inform all your financial institutions and consider putting a freeze on your credit report.
Another tool consumers can use is the public fraud report. By reporting fraudulent online businesses or websites you can:
(1) Warn other consumers
(2) Put the fraudsters one step closer to being put out of business
(3) Get help from other consumers who may have gone through a similar experience
(4) In some cases, fraudsters may have a change of heart, read your report, and attempt to reconcile with you and refund your money
Reporting online fraud to law enforcement is important not just because it may be possible to recover some of your losses, but if law enforcement receives enough reports they can move to shut down fraudulent outfits and bring perpetrators to justice. Three primary law enforcement avenues exist:
For an exhaustive list, please visit the Justice Department’s page on reporting fraud.
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