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By Tracy Scott
The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has identified 23 categories of common fraud schemes. The FBI also provides tips on how to avoid becoming the next victim. Unfortunately, many Americans will only take time to review this list after they’ve been scammed.
Thieves count on victims taking an extended period of time to recognize that they’ve been cheated. The longer the fraud takes to be identified, the more damage the scammer can do to the victim’s finances. If your personal information has been used for nefarious purposes or you’ve been otherwise financially deceived, action needs to be taken immediately to aid in the recovery process.
Here are the steps you should take if you realize you’re a victim of fraud. Depending on the fraud perpetrated, you may need to take additional steps not listed in this article.
The type of fraud committed will determine the first step you’ll need to take. For example, if there was fraudulent use of your credit card, then contact your credit card company to report unauthorized usage. Laws governing the crime will also influence the action you need to take since different law enforcement agencies oversee different offenses.
Other factors that determine how you should proceed:
If a financial account was compromised, it might be necessary to close the account or obtain a new debit or credit card for that account. Contact your financial institution for details on their process for handling fraudulent account activity. Change your login ID and password for the account and use a different PIN for the new card.
Financial restitution might be possible in a court of law. Documentation is required to support your case. Even if your allegation doesn’t go to court, you’ll need evidence to support your claims of fraudulent activity. This might include:
Don’t limit your reporting of the scam to your credit card company or financial institution. Various entities encourage reporting of fraud schemes so they can investigate them and help educate others.
Atlas works to protect its members by training and alerting staff on how to recognize and stop fraud. We also inform and educate members about security issues on their accounts. Members should also review Atlas’s Fraud Protection Checklist to help protect themselves from fraud. Finally, we encourage members to visit the FTC’s Consumer Information page to sign up for email scam alerts.