What to Do if You Are a Victim of Fraud
In the past, thieves forged checks and stole account numbers from credit card receipts. Today, cybercriminals use digital scams to get victims to hand over their personal and financial information. They also break into business networks and steal customer data.
The problem is only getting worse. In 2020, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) received more than 790,0001 complaints of online fraud in the U.S., an increase of almost 70% from 2019.
Cybercriminals are after your personal and financial information. This includes your Social Security number, address, birth date, bank and credit account numbers, and passwords to your accounts. With this information, scammers can make fraudulent charges on your credit cards, steal directly from your accounts, and apply for credit in your name.
Keeping your personal information safe is critical. Use secure passwords, avoid entering personal information into any website while on a public Wi-Fi network, and use digital banking for automated fraud alerts, for example. Stay on top of common financial scams, such as phishing, vishing, and smishing. No reputable financial institution — including Synovus — will ever call, email, or text you to ask for personal information.
Scammers come up with new schemes every day, and it's more important than ever to stay one step ahead of them, but it's not always possible. If you think you've been the victim of a scam, read on to find out what steps you need to take next.
No reputable financial institution — including Synovus — will ever call, email, or text you to ask for personal information.
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.
Important disclosure information
This content is general in nature and does not constitute legal, tax, accounting, financial or investment advice. You are encouraged to consult with competent legal, tax, accounting, financial or investment professionals based on your specific circumstances. We do not make any warranties as to accuracy or completeness of this information, do not endorse any third-party companies, products, or services described here, and take no liability for your use of this information.
- FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center, "Internet Crime Report 2020," published May 17, 2021, accessed July 19, 2021. Back
- Equifax, "Fraud and Active Duty Alerts," accessed July 19, 2021. Back
- Experian, "Fraud Alert," accessed July 19, 2021. Back
- TransUnion, "Fraud Alert," accessed July 19, 2021. Back
- Federal Trade Commission (FTC), "IdentityTheft.gov," accessed July 19, 2021. Back
- FBI, "Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3)," accessed July 19, 2021. Back
- AnnualCreditReports.com, "3 steps to your free credit report," accessed July 19, 2021. Back
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