What To Do If You Are A Victim Of Online Fraud
Protecting your personal information can help you avoid becoming a fraud victim. But it's not always enough. If you suspect you have been a fraud victim, you need to act quickly. This can help you minimize the damage. Plus, there are also steps you take to help you recover.
If you suspect you've become a fraud victim, here's what you should do as quickly as possible:
- Contact your banks, lenders, and credit card companies and let them know you believe you are a victim of online fraud. Most likely, they will close your existing accounts and open new ones with new account numbers.
- File a fraud alert at one of the three credit reporting bureaus, Equifax,2 Experian,3 or TransUnion.4 This will make it harder for someone to open new credit in your name. You don't have to file with all three credit bureaus, since they share fraud alerts with each other. You can also freeze on your report, which would prevent anyone (including you) from opening new credit accounts in your name until you remove the freeze.
- File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission at identitytheft.gov.5 Once you have filed a complaint, the agency will help you create a personal fraud recovery plan.
- File a police report. Contact your local police or sheriff's office. While they can't necessarily track down the criminals, they can take a formal report and pass the information along to other agencies.
- File a report with the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3).6 A partnership between the FBI and National White Collar Crime Center, it will evaluate your fraud claim and pass it along to any federal, state, and local authorities or agencies with jurisdiction.
- Keep copies of all your contacts, reports, and responses. You'll typically receive digital notification from the organization you contact confirming your complaint. Be sure to track what you've done and the responses you've received from each party you contacted.
- Check your credit report regularly. In response to the dramatic rise in cybercrime during the pandemic, all three credit reporting bureaus are offering consumers free weekly credit reports7 to help them keep an eye on their accounts.