How to Get Help if You Have Been the Victim of a Con, Scam or Fraud Scheme
Falling victim to a con, scam, or fraud scheme may cause strong emotions. It might be hard to believe that it actually happened to you. You might feel ashamed. You may fear that it could happen again. These reactions are common and normal. But, also understand that the situation is not your fault. Financial fraud is more common than you think. If you are the victim of a con, scam, or act of fraud, you may also be dealing with identity theft and financial loss.
Unfortunately, if you are the victim of financial fraud, it is up to you to put your financial life back in order. It can take over a year to recover from this type of crime. Your first responsibility in regaining control is to notify the appropriate organizations. File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission and sign and keep your Identity Theft Affidavit. Go to your local police station and file a police report, bringing with you all of the evidence that you have of the crime. Contact your creditors and ask for your accounts to be closed or for account numbers to be changed. Order your credit reports and read them for accuracy. Put a fraud alert on your credit files.
If after the 90-day fraud alert expires you still feel the need for additional protection, consider filing for an extended fraud alert that will last for seven years. You could also consider a credit freeze, which will block access to your credit file until a time in the future when you decide to unlock it.
Once you have communicated with all of the relevant entities about the crime, you now need to allow them time to investigate. Credit reporting agencies have 30 days to begin investigations on allegations of false information on your credit file. If they cannot prove that the false information belongs to you, they are required to remove it from your file.
If the thief is identified, you may want to file a civil suit to recover money that you have lost. Attorneys can give you advice on how to proceed. There are also many resources that will provide both concrete and emotional support. You are not alone.