Did the IRS call to tell them you owe them back taxes? Did someone call to try and sell you a car warranty or tell you they can refinance your student loans? Chances are, you are speaking with someone who is trying to take advantage of you.
Phone scammers are not a new thing. They have been around for years, and they get a lot of victims. In fact, according to a report by Truecaller, 59.4 million Americans fell victim to phone scams last year, costing them a whopping $29.8 billion.
That’s a real problem but if you have fallen for one of these, know that you are not alone.
Phone scams are getting trickier and trickier, and while we would like to think we can keep our clients away from them altogether, the reality is, falling for one of these is unfortunately not a matter of “if” for some of our clients; it is a matter of “when.”
Phone scammers can go after anyone; however, most victims are senior citizens. As the Baby Boomer generation continues to age, the potential pool of victims for scammers to prey on will only increase. This means they aren’t going anywhere, and we need to continue preparing our clients to protect themselves.
While there are plenty of articles out there on how to avoid being scammed, what should you do if you do happen to get scammed? The purpose of this blog post is to turn our attention towards lessening the damage done instead of preventing it. Here are three things you should do if you’ve just handed over your sensitive data to a phone scammer.
- Stop, take a deep breath, and write down everything you remember about the phone call.
Take detailed notes, write down the number they called from, along with everything you can remember about the call. Write down the time and date of the call as well and if possible, take a screenshot on your phone of the contact.
- If you’ve provided any bank or credit card information, please follow the guidelines from the FTC immediately:
If you paid a scammer with a credit or debit card, you might be able to stop the transaction. Contact your credit card company or bank right away. Tell them what happened and ask for a “chargeback” to reverse the charges.
If you paid a scammer with a gift card, prepaid card, or cash reload card, contact the company that issued the card right away. Tell them you paid a scammer with the card, and ask if they can refund your money. The sooner you contact them, the better the chance they’ll be able to get your money back.
If you paid a scammer by wiring money through companies like Western Union or MoneyGram, call the company immediately to report the fraud and file a complaint. Call the complaint department:
- MoneyGram at 1-800-MONEYGRAM (1-800-666-3947)
- Western Union at 1-800-325-6000
Ask for the wire transfer to be reversed. It’s unlikely to happen, but it’s important to ask.
If you paid a scammer using a money transfer app, contact the company behind the app. If the app is linked to a credit card or debit card, contact your credit card company or bank first.
If you gave a scammer remote access to your computer, update your computer’s security software. Then run a scan and delete anything it identifies as a problem.
If you provided your username and password to a scammer, change your password right away. If you use the same password for other accounts or sites, change it there, too. Create a new password that is strong.
If you gave a scammer your Social Security number (SSN), visit IdentityTheft.gov to learn how to monitor your credit report to see if your SSN is being misused.
If someone calls and offers to “help” you recover the money you have already lost, don’t give them money or personal information. You’re probably dealing with a fake refund scam.
Of course, if you are a client of ours, contact your financial advisor here at Summit immediately as well.
- Report what happened
Here’s a list of who you will want to report this to.
The FTC: ReportFraud.ftc.gov.
The police: To be labeled a crime, you will need a police report. This will help when you are attempting to retrieve the money that was stolen.
Credit agency: Call a credit reporting agency such as TransUnion, Equifax, or Experian to place a fraud alert. If you call one of the three major credit bureaus, they can contact the other two – no need for you to do it.
In addition to these things, you may want to take some extra steps to monitor your sensitive data over the next year. Look into a credit monitoring and identity theft protection service such as LifeLock. Definitely change your bank and credit card passwords to something secure, monitor your bank transactions closely, and be sure to let your bank know if something looks suspicious.
If Summit Wealth Group manages your investments, we are your advocates and are here to help you protect against every kind of financial scam. We want to be one of the first to know so we can help you through this process.
Remember, if you fall victim to a phone scam, it is not the end of the world. There are several things you can do to limit the financial damage. Give us a call; we can help!