Social engineering scams trick victims into sharing sensitive information. Unfortunately, they are a particularly dangerous daily reality. Discovering that you're the victim of a scam can be stressful and even embarrassing. But, you aren’t alone! In fact, the FTC received over 51 million reports of fraud in 2022 alone. If this happened to you, take a moment to assess the extent of the damage. Then, follow these steps to recover and protect yourself in the future.
Step One: Stop and Block
Immediately stop all communication with the scammer. If they contact you by email, block their email address. If they reach out in a text message, block the number. If it's through a social media platform, use the platform's blocking or reporting features. Cutting off communication helps prevent further manipulation or attempts to extract more information from you.
Step Two: Report
Report the incident to the appropriate authorities. In addition to your local police department, you should report your scam to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). They will use the information you share to build cases against scammers, spot trends, and educate the public.
Step Three: Protect yourself
Regularly monitor your bank and credit card statements for any unauthorized transactions. If you notice anything suspicious, report it to your financial institution immediately. You should also consider either adding a fraud alert to your credit report or freezing your credit entirely.
Learn more about the difference between fraud alerts and credit freezes and which is the best option for you.
Update your passwords, especially those that contain sensitive information or financial details. Use strong, unique passwords that include a combination of letters, numbers, and symbols. If you reused passwords across multiple accounts, take this opportunity to create distinct passwords for each platform.
Finally, enable MFA on all your accounts that offer this additional security measure. MFA provides an extra layer of protection by requiring a second form of verification, such as a unique code sent to your phone, in addition to your password. This makes it more difficult for scammers to access your accounts even if they have your login credentials.
Protect your ID.me account
ID.me can investigate if you suspect someone tried to create an ID.me account using your information. How you contact ID.me depends on if you have an ID.me account or not. This Help Center article walks you through the steps.
Learn something every day
Falling victim to an online social engineering scam can be stressful, but taking quick action can reduce the damage and prevent further harm. Take this experience as an opportunity to educate yourself about online scams, social engineering techniques, and general online security practices. Familiarize yourself with common red flags and tactics scammers use to deceive their victims. The more informed you are, the better equipped you'll be to protect yourself in the future.
Visit these sites for more information:
- Cybercrime Support Network: Online Reporting Tool
- National Cybersecurity Alliance: Stay Safe Online
- Identity Theft Resource Center