Everyday someone falls victim to a scam or fraud. With the help of technology, scams happen more often each day. Recently a member of my family fell into a scam. She went to look for some help online with her printer, searched online for the phone number and called asking for help. After 45 minutes on the phone, the scammers installed software to "help" her printer and then asked her for $75. Then in a strange turn of events, they gave her the right phone number for the printer company. That's when she knew she had a problem...
If you or someone you love falls victim to a fraud or scam here are tasks you need to complete right away.
Document Your Interaction
Use the 5 "W's" – Who, What, When, Where and Why of your interaction with that person or company, and write down the information before you forget. You'll need this information later if you file a police report or file a complaint with your state's attorney general's office. In Illinois, you can file a complaint three different ways, online, over the phone or a by mailing in a paper form. Use whatever format works best for you, but make sure to send in your complaint!
Clean Your Computer
If a person were to infiltrate your computer, they could have access to passwords, credit card information and other identifying information. You may want to install new protection software or go to a trusted local store to help clean the virus or software off. You may end up spending some money on this portion, but it's better to be safe than sorry.
Change Your Passwords
If your computer was hacked into, you may want to wait to change your passwords until you know your computer is "clean" but changing your passwords is an effective way to cut down on hackers getting your information. If you have any of 2015's worst passwords – change them now!
Alert Your Credit Card Companies and Credit Report!
If you think your computer has been hacked into, you might also want to make a phone call to your credit card companies and alert them to watch for any suspicious transactions. Most credit card companies are on top of watching for unusual spending but you may want to set up a credit report fraud alert too. Setting it up is free, and it last for an initial 90 days. To set up a credit report fraud alert: go here!
Sign Up for Scam Alerts
The Federal Trade Commission has frequent emails that they send out to their subscribers to notify them of new scams or frauds that are going on around the country. This is one great way to stay up to date on new scams, you can Sign Up for Scam Alerts here!
Remember that EVERYONE can fall victim to a scam or fraud! Taking preventative measures can help like changing your passwords, cleaning your computer and signing up for scam alerts! You can also protect yourself by setting up a credit report fraud alert and notifying your credit card companies. Don't forget to document your interaction and then send in your complaint! You may be the first person in a new scam, but without sending in your complaint, no one else will know!
Until next month,