Web Fraud Victim's Guide

You've just recognized that you are a victimof a phishing scam or other type of web-based fraud, follow these steps immediately, time is crtical.
The sooner the authorities become aware, the more likely they'll be able to help you and protect others from the scam.
  • Close any affected online accounts

    • Contact the company, bank or organization that the scam is masquerading as. If you contact the real company immediately, they may be able to lessen the damage to you and others.
    • Most companies have a security or fraud department - inform them about the scam and how it has affected you. It is important to tell every bank or financial institution you deal with, including credit card companies, utilities, internet service providers, and other places where you regularly use your credit card.
    • Keep track of your correspondence. Save a copy for yourself of all the communications between you and the various institutions where you were scammed.
    • Close any affected online accounts and any accounts which use the same information (usernames, passwords, secret questions...) as the affected ones.
    • Change the passwords on all of your online accounts, starting with the ones that deal with your finances such as banks. Change the passwords to your email addresses that may contain conformation of your online identity (passwords, usernames, secret questions...).
    • Make your new accounts stronger. Use long complex passwords, not simple passwords such as your phone number, your children's names or birthdates, or words like "password", "blablabla" and "abcdefg".
  • Request a fraud alert on your credit reports

    • Request a copy of your credit report (free of charge for victims of ID theft) and ask that no new credit be granted without your specific approval.
    • Make sure your credit is marked with a "fraud alert" tag and a "victim's statement". Insist that the alerts remain for seven years (the maximum).
    • Make your requests by post and keep copies of them for yourself. Once you receive the reports, look them over carefully. Mark things like inquiries you didn't initiate, new accounts, and unexplained charges.
    • To reach your credit bureau, contact your bank or financial institution, and ask to be directed to the relevant organization or agency.
  • Contact the relevant authorities

    In the United States, contact the Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
    • File a complaint. If you are a victim of any type of identity theft, you can report the theft by calling the FTC's toll-free Identity Theft Hotline at (877) ID-THEFT or (877) 438-4338. Counselors will advise you on how to deal with the credit-related problems that can result from identity theft.
    • Download and print the FTC's Identity Theft affidavit. Fill it out and send it to credit card agencies to help minimize your responsibility for any debts incurred by those who stole your identity. Your case will be entered in the FTC's nationwide "Consumer Sentinel" database of ID theft cases, which helps law enforcement agencies find criminal patterns and catch the thieves.
    Outside of the United States, file a report with your local police department
    • Get a copy of the police report to notify your bank, credit card company, and other creditors that you are a victim of a crime, not a credit abuser. Depending on where you live, you might be required to file a report in the jurisdiction where the crime actually took place.
  • Keep a record of everything

    • Always keep printed copies of all the relevantscreen captures, forms, e-mails, written correspondence, and any telephone call records (if you have them). Make sure to keep these files somewhere safe.
    • Follow up any telephone or person-to-person conversation with a dated confirmation letter, and save a copy of it. Make sure to detail the conversation, and any follow-up correspondence you or the representative had committed to.
  • Additional resources