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This is part one of our mini-series on being financially scammed. Please click here to read part two.
I recently received a call out of the blue from a loved one. “Hans, are you sitting down,” they said in a frail voice filled with emotion.
I immediately thought there was an accident or death in the family. My loved one began to explain how they were financially scammed out of thousands of dollars. They had called their credit card company and had reported the crime to the local sheriff’s office. However, nothing more could be done. The damage was done, and since it was an international scam, it was out of the local police’s jurisdiction.
As I heard the tearful admission on the phone, there were all sorts of mixed feelings and questions welled up inside of me.
How could someone do this to my loved one? Is there some other avenue of justice and repayment they haven’t thought of? What kind of people scam other people out of hard-earned money? How many other people have fallen victim to this scam?
The sad reality is that scams cheat older Americans out of almost $3 billion a year. That’s $3 billion with a “b.”
Falling for a scam is something that most people will not admit to. Scammers know this and use it to their advantage, but their victims have no reason to feel embarrassed. Many people have been conned out of money or personal information. Many are highly educated and affluent—not the type of people you’d think could fall for a scam. These deceptive people are very good at their jobs. In fact, our embarrassment and reluctance to share our experiences is the key to their continued success.
For more information on the emotional aspects of being scammed, click here.
What To Do Once You’ve Been Scammed
If you or someone you know has been scammed, it is crucial to notify the proper authorities as soon as possible for help recovering lost funds and to prevent others from being victimized. With so many kinds of scams and fraud, it’s hard to figure out where to report each type. Gather emails, receipts, and phone numbers so you’re prepared to complete your report. Click here to learn where to report your specific scam.
Start by reporting the scam to your state consumer protection office. If you lost money or other possessions in a scam, report it to your local police too. In addition to reporting the scam to your local or federal government, you may want to report the scam to organizations outside of the government. Third parties may be able to get your money back or remove fraudulent charges. Report a scam that happened with an online seller or a payment transfer system to the company’s fraud department. If you used your credit card or bank account to pay a scammer, report it to the card issuer or bank. Also, report scams to the major credit reporting agencies. Consider placing a fraud alert on your credit report to prevent someone from opening credit accounts in your name.
Ask for help when you need it
One of our first core values at Intelligent Investing is compassion. We understand that being scammed or being defrauded is one of the most stressful times in a person’s life. We are here to help our clients and be a sounding board and financial accountability partner to them. If there is anything we can do for you, we’d love to have a cup of coffee or a quick phone call with you.
If you are needing help with the emotional aspects of being financially scammed, consider reaching out for counseling. Though we do not endorse them, LifePaths Counseling offers such services.