8 - Every New Scam Victim Needs To Understand What To Do Next!

Every New Scam Victim Needs to Understand What to Do Next!

Your Action Plan After Becoming a Scam Victim to Stop the Damage!

Understand this: everyone can be scammed, and everyone will be scammed

Key Topics:

  • Stop the Bleeding

  • Protecting Your Accounts

  • Mitigate the Scam Damage

  • Protect Yourself for the Future

Don’t Get Blindsided as a Scam Victim

Your Action Plan After Becoming a Scam Victim to Stop the Damage!

First, understand this: everyone can be scammed, and everyone will be scammed – you will become a scam victim at some point! How well you plan and prepare for it will determine how bad it becomes.

There are more than 49 million scam victims in the United States alone (as of 2023), and an estimated 100 million worldwide. None of them planned on becoming a victim either, but it happened. Within the next couple of years, every American adult will be the victim of a scam at least once, and sometimes many times.

Becoming A Scam Victim

Becoming a scam victim can be an emotionally and financially devastating experience.

Discovering you’ve fallen victim to a scam is a disheartening and stressful experience, but swift action can help mitigate its impact and prevent further damage. Understanding what steps to take immediately after discovering a scam is crucial in minimizing losses and protecting yourself from future threats.

Scam Victim – Where to Begin?

The shock, anger, and fear can feel overwhelming, but amidst the chaos, it’s crucial to take swift action to minimize the damage and prevent further harm.

Here’s your comprehensive guide to navigating the aftermath of a scam.

Stop the Bleeding:

  1. Change Your Passwords Immediately: Update your login credentials for every account potentially compromised, including email, bank accounts, social media, and online shopping platforms. Use strong, unique passwords for each account, and enable two/multi-factor authentication.
  2. Stop All Transactions: Immediately cease any further transactions, communication, or engagement with the scammer. Freeze or close any compromised accounts.
  3. Cut Off All Contact: Immediately cease all communication with the scammer, regardless of their pleas or threats. Block their numbers, emails, and social media accounts.

  4. Alert Your Bank and Credit Card Companies: If money was stolen, inform your bank and credit card companies instantly. Report the fraudulent activity and request to have your accounts frozen.

  5. Uninstall Unkown or Malicious Software: If you installed any apps suggested by the scammers uninstall them immediately. If you suspect malware was installed, run a comprehensive antivirus scan and consider contacting a computer security expert for professional removal.

Protecting Your Accounts

As said above, it is critical to protect your accounts from takeovers by scammers by changing passwords, security questions, and making sure they have multi-factor authentication. You may only have minutes to change and protect some of them. Protect the top three first in the order below!

NOTE: if you are going to use or turn on multi-factor authentication (2FA or MFA) make sure you are using the Microsoft Authenticator or Google Authenticator app to provide your authentication codes – Microsoft is preferred since it maintains a backup in case you lose or change phones. DO NOT USE Text messaging or email since the criminals may try to take over your email or phone accounts.

During a relationship scam or even a phishing scam, you may have given enough information to allow the criminals to take over some or all of your accounts.

Top Priority Accounts to Protect Immediately

These three accounts will be the scammers’ highest target for takeovers and control of your life – but also, have the least protection. Protect them in this order:

  1. Email Accounts: Change your password and security questions. Consider enabling two-factor authentication for added security. Be cautious about responding to unsolicited emails or clicking on suspicious links. Change passwords & turn on MFA using an Authenticator App.
  2. Mobile Phone Accounts: Contact your mobile carrier and report the scam. Request to change your phone number and PIN if necessary. Be cautious about clicking on links or downloading apps from unknown sources. Change passwords & turn on MFA using an Authenticator App.
  3. Bank Accounts: Immediately report the scam to your bank and request to freeze your accounts. Monitor for unauthorized transactions and gather relevant documentation for potential claims. Change the password & turn on MFA using an Authenticator App.

Your Financial Accounts:

Do not overlook any accounts, the scammers will go after anything that can get them money or control over your life.

  • Credit card accounts: Contact your credit card company and report the fraudulent activity. Request to have the affected card frozen and dispute any unauthorized charges.
  • Investment accounts: Check for suspicious activity in your investment accounts and report any unauthorized trades or withdrawals. Contact your broker or financial advisor for further assistance.
  • Loan accounts: Be vigilant for increased interest rates or attempts to collect on non-existent debt. Contact your loan servicer if you notice any irregularities.
  • Online payment accounts (PayPal, Venmo, etc.): Change your password and security questions, review recent transactions for unauthorized activity, and contact the platform’s customer support if you suspect fraud.
  • Cryptocurrency wallets: If your cryptocurrency was stolen, report the scam to the relevant exchanges and platforms. However, recovering stolen cryptocurrency can be difficult and depends on the platform’s policies.

Your Personal Accounts:

  • Social media accounts: Review your privacy settings and limit the information you share publicly. Change your passwords and consider taking a break from social media if you feel overwhelmed or targeted.
  • Online shopping accounts: Change your passwords and check for any unauthorized orders or changes to your account information. Consider using different passwords for each shopping platform.
  • Streaming service accounts: If you suspect your streaming service account was compromised, change your password and review your subscription details for any unauthorized charges.
  • Cloud storage accounts: Change your password and security questions. Review your file access logs for any suspicious activity and consider encrypting sensitive data stored in the cloud.
  • Dating app accounts: If you were scammed on a dating app, report the user to the platform and delete your account if necessary. Be cautious about sharing personal information with strangers online.

Your Professional Accounts:

  • Work email accounts: Change your password and be mindful of phishing emails targeting your workplace. Inform your IT department if you suspect a compromise.
  • Business bank accounts: Monitor for unauthorized transactions and report any suspicious activity to your bank immediately. Consider reviewing your account access controls and implementing stricter security measures.
  • Professional networking accounts (LinkedIn, etc.): Adjust your privacy settings and be cautious about accepting connections from strangers. Review your profile information for any unauthorized changes.
  • Client databases: If your client database was compromised, notify your clients immediately and offer credit monitoring or identity theft protection services. Report the data breach to the relevant authorities if required.
  • Company software accounts: Update passwords for all business software and applications. Review access controls and restrict access to sensitive data.

Your Other Accounts:

After a scam, scammers will go after and try to take control of everything. This is just the consequence of being scammed. Do not belay and do not try to hide from the fact that you were scammed. It is your responsibility to protect yourself – no one else will do it for you!

  • Utility accounts (electricity, gas, water): Contact your utility providers and inform them of the scam. Monitor your bills for any unauthorized charges or attempts to open new accounts in your name.
  • Government benefits accounts: Report the scam to the relevant government agency responsible for your benefits. Monitor your account activity and inform them of any irregularities.
  • Tax accounts: Be wary of phishing scams targeting tax refunds or identity theft attempts. Protect your tax information and report any suspicious activity to the IRS.
  • Loyalty program accounts: Change your passwords and review your account activity for unauthorized redemptions or rewards usage.

Mitigate the Scam Damage:

Since you never know all the ways that scammers will exploit the information you gave them it is important to protect yourself legally too by reporting the crime. Just imagine if they use your name to scam others.

  1. File a Criminal Report: Report the scam to the relevant authorities, such as the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) or your local police department. Filing a report helps track scam patterns and potentially assists in catching the perpetrators. Go to reporting.AgainstScams.org to learn how to do it and where.

  2. Gather the Evidence: Keep all documentation related to the scam, such as emails, phone logs, receipts, and screenshots. This evidence can be crucial for recovering stolen funds or protecting yourself from further harm. See our Scam Victim’s Checklist here to help with organizing this information. But you can store them away after you file your reports, but do not purge them all impulsively – you never know what the police may need.

  3. Freeze Your Credit: Contact the main credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion) and place a freeze on your credit report. This prevents credit thieves from opening new accounts in your name. Also, expect to take a credit score hit when you are scammed! Also make sure to notify credit bureaus of the potential for identity theft to place a fraud alert on your credit report, preventing further unauthorized accounts or loans.

  4. Monitor Your Accounts: Regularly check your bank statements, credit card statements, and online accounts for any suspicious activity. Report any unauthorized transactions immediately.

  5. Monitor Your Financial Statements: Regularly monitor your bank statements, credit reports, and any financial activity for suspicious transactions. Report any unrecognized or fraudulent charges immediately.
  6. Secure Your Devices: Scan your devices for malware or viruses. Update security software, change Wi-Fi passwords, and enable two-factor authentication (2FA) wherever possible.
  7. Protect Your Identity: Be cautious about sharing personal information online. Verify sources before sharing sensitive details and consider using identity protection services. You may want to sign up for an identity protection service such as LifeLock.

Yes, this is a huge amount of work. A single impulsive click can cause so much damage that it can take years to recover from it if you do not do everything possible to mitigate it.

When the Worst Happens – Recovering Your Accounts

This is going to be a very complicated process, and each account will have different requirements. Ask a more technical friend or family member to help you but do not delay, time is very important.

Recovery Process:

  • Contact Financial Institutions: Work closely with banks or financial institutions to recover lost funds or dispute unauthorized transactions. Some may have protections against fraudulent activities.
  • Recover Accounts: Contact relevant platforms or services where accounts were compromised. Follow their account recovery protocols, which might include identity verification.
  • Stay Informed: Stay updated on scams and common tactics used by scammers. Educate yourself to recognize red flags and protect against future attempts.
  • Review Security Settings: Regularly review and enhance security settings on all online accounts. Enable notifications for any changes made to accounts.
  • Legal Assistance: Consider seeking legal advice or consulting with professionals specializing in fraud and scams to explore legal options or get guidance. Remember that only the police can actually recover your money!

Protect Yourself for the Future:

  1. Educate Yourself: Knowledge is power, and SCARS provides the knowledge you need – you just need to learn it. Learn about common and uncommon scams and their tactics. Stay informed about the latest scams and update your awareness regularly. But also understand that new variations of these crimes emerge constantly. What you know this year may be obsolete in a few months!

  2. Be Cautious Online: Don’t click on suspicious links or attachments in emails or messages. Be wary of unsolicited offers or deals that seem too good to be true. Stop acting impulsively and stop talking to strangers online!

  3. Use Secure Connections: Always use strong Wi-Fi passwords and avoid public Wi-Fi for sensitive transactions, such as online banking. In the case of banking, use your phone since it is more secure than a computer, and make sure you have a unique password for each of your priority accounts.

  4. Be Mindful of Social Media: Don’t share personal information or financial details publicly on social media. Be cautious about friend requests from strangers.

  5. Use Trusted Sources: Research companies and services before providing them with any personal information or money. Stick to reputable and well-established businesses. There are several thousand fake companies created EVERY DAY!


  • Scammers prey on vulnerabilities, exploiting emotions like fear, greed, or desperation. Don’t be afraid to seek help from trusted friends, family, or professionals.

  • Financial & Emotional Recovery might take time, but don’t let the scam define you. Be patient with yourself and focus on rebuilding your trust and security.

Falling victim to a scam can be a frightening experience, but by taking immediate action and implementing these steps, you can regain control, minimize the damage, and protect yourself from future harm. By educating yourself and others, we can build a more vigilant community that stands resilient against the ever-evolving tactics of scammers.

Remember, you are not alone. Let’s fight back against scams, one informed step at a time.

Get Emotional Support

If you are a relationship scam victim (romance scams or Crypto Investment Scams) we can help you to recover emotionally from this experience. Our services are free, safe, and completely confidential. Remember, this really was not your fault.

Visit support.AgainstScams.org to learn more.

SCARS Resources

• More Info For New Victims of Relationship Scams newvictim.AgainstScams.org
• Subscribe to SCARS Newsletter newsletter.againstscams.org
• Sign up for SCARS professional support & recovery groups, visit support.AgainstScams.org
• Join our Scam Survivors United Chat, Education & Discussion Group facebook.com/groups/scam.survivors.united
• Find competent trauma counselors or therapists, visit counseling.AgainstScams.org
• Become a SCARS Member and get free counseling benefits, visit membership.AgainstScams.org
• Report each and every crime, learn how to at reporting.AgainstScams.org
• Learn more about Scams & Scammers at RomanceScamsNOW.com and ScamsNOW.com
• Scammer photos ScammerPhotos.com
• SCARS Videos youtube.AgainstScams.org
• Self-Help Books for Scam Victims are at shop.AgainstScams.org
• Donate to SCARS and help us help others at donate.AgainstScams.org
• Worldwide Crisis Hotlines: https://blog.opencounseling.com/suicide-hotlines/
• SCARS Scam Psychology Guides & Knowledge: ScamPsychology.org

SCARS Scam Victims' Support - email us at contact@AgainstScams.org

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