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The Savvy Online Consumer

How to Report Online Fraud & Scams

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:

Report it to your financial institution

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.

Report it publicly

Report fraud and scams on SiteJabber

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

Report it to law enforcement

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.

Image source1, 2, 3

Comments

7 Responses to “How to Report Online Fraud & Scams”
  1. Tom says:

    Is there any sort of cyber law that exists? How do all these bogus PTC sites exist? Where is Interpol or FBI’s cyber Division when you need them? There is hundreds of these PTC sites that exist. Is (PCH)Publishers Clearing House the largest PTC site there is? Whats the manic urge/desire for people to join? Their odds of winning are only 1 in 1.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.
    The odds of actually winning a Publishers Clearing House Sweepstake is so astronomical, you’d be more likely getting mauled by a Grizzly Bear and a Polar Bear both together under the New York City Subway System.

    • Jeremy Gin says:

      Tom, those are all great questions. Cyber laws exist but they are hard to enforce because: (1) limited resources and (2) jurisdiction. For example, if 1000 cyber criminal all steal $500 each from different spots all over the globe, it’s hard to justify the cost for the FBI or Interpol to track them all down. Also, someone in Arizona might get scammed, but if the fraudster lives in, say, Iran, it’s hard for the FBI to extradite that person because there may not be a treaty in place which allows them to do so. This is actually why we set up SiteJabber — to give consumers the tools to protect themselves from cyber fraud.

      Your question about why people play lotteries is interesting. People who play lotteries are disproportionately poor, so they act like a regressive tax. The Economist recently wrote a piece about it: http://www.economist.com/node/16507738
      According to the article, “1 in 5 Americans think play lotteries constitute a sound retirement plan.” Bad news, if you ask me.

  2. Joseph Day says:

    he reason im reporting is because you cant contact filesonic..very frustrating to negotiate with them…you cant contact them on the phone..no phone number.. ..and they wont let you change your password even though you forgot it and they wont let you do anything to change it..very rude of them.. i smell a scam here.. and i payed $9.17. fo this website and im not getting my full moneys worth because of it. and plus the web sites downloading servers are a sham.. very slow and ridiculis…filesonic wont let me do anything…and i want this web site reviewed and investigated..because i think they are a scam…and plus they have viruses too when you go there..and when i went there the first time 1 week ago.. i got a bad virus that was very frustrating to get rid of …frankley this web site is not reliable for any customer that goes and pays to them.. thank you.. i hope this dosent happen to the next person that comes around.. because they will get scammed too or worse…. thank you…..

  3. Wayne says:

    I’ve tried three times to file an online complaint with the FTC. They ask for a website address and an email address of the site that ripped me off. Nothing I enter is sufficient to allow the next step. The url address isn’t accepted and any email address from the offending site isn’t accepted as their email address even though I have emailed the offending site with returned responses. So what good does it do to complain to the FTC when I can’t give a “legitimate” addy when I’ve used the same address for communication. It’s like trying to do anything with the govt…frustration to no end. I think the only way to get their attention is to actually track down the offenders and administer your own “justice”. Then of course it’s splashed all over the media and you end up in jail. I think they FTC is more apt to protect the offenders than the offended ones. Just my opinion.

    • Jeremy Gin says:

      Hi Wayne — thanks for commenting. You might try calling the FTC to report your complaint if you’re having trouble with the online form. Their phone number is 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357). They also have a number of other phone numbers depending on the type of issue that you might have. Here’s the page: http://www.ftc.gov/ftc/contact.shtm

      Hope this helps!
      Jeremy
      SiteJabber.com

  4. joyce stotz says:

    I got no info. about my credit score,I tried again the next day, still nothing. I called the number on their site, to cancel, the lady said I”d be removed,I have recived two charges, less than a month apart (on one bank statement) chargeing me 29.95 each time.To say the least, Im not happy with scoresense ! They are a ripoff !!

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