What to do if you get scammed online: ‘Change at least your password’

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Do you think you have been scammed online? Here’s what to do. (Photo: Getty)

It is easy to assume that you would never be scammed online. After all, you’re smart and you know not to do overtly vague things like clicking pop-ups. But this kind of thing happens to a lot of people, and you may wonder what to do if you get scammed online.

According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), online scams have exploded since the start of the pandemic. In 2019, the total reported losses from online fraud cost people $134 million. But the losses reached $117 million in just the first six months of 2020. That included online shopping scams, romance, economic relief and income, the FTC says.

You don’t want to fall victim to online fraud, but this is not news to you. Still, it’s hard to know what to do if you’re being scammed online.

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While prevention is key, it is important to be prepared in case you get scammed online. Here’s what you need to know.

How do people usually get scammed online?

It depends. “While there are countless types of online scams, most involve some form of social engineering — tricking people into doing something they wouldn’t do if they understood what was really going on,” Joseph Steinberg, a cybersecurity and emerging technologies consultant, tells Yahoo Life.

A common way people get scammed online is to have their account information ‘phishing’, often by being tricked into visiting a fake login page,” computer security expert Graham Cluley, co-host of the Crushing Security podcast, Yahoo Life tells.

Scammers usually trick people into giving out personal information, such as their social security number or credit card information.  (Photo: Getty)

Scammers usually trick people into giving out personal information, such as their social security number or credit card information. (Photo: Getty)

So, what should you do if you get scammed online?

A lot depends on the type of account that was hacked and what kind of scam it is, says Cluley. Here’s an overview of the next steps under different circumstances:

  • You paid a scammer with a credit or debit card. Contact your credit card company or bank that issued your card and tell them that a fraudulent charge was made. They should be able to reverse the transaction and get your money back.

  • You gave the scammer your social security number. Go to IdentityTheft.gov for next steps. You should also keep an eye on your creditworthiness.

  • You have given the scammer access to your computer or phone. Run a scan with your computer’s security software and remove anything marked. For your phone, contact your service provider to regain control of your phone. You also want to check your bank account and/or credit card for fraudulent charges.

It is also a good idea to contact the Federal Trade Commission to report the scammer and hopefully help prevent other people from falling victim to scams.

Finally, you want to make sure you are protected going forward. “At a minimum, change your password and make sure you don’t use the same password anywhere else on the web,” says Cluley.