Last Updated on by SCARS Editorial Team
SCARSSCARS SCARS - Society of Citizens Against Relationship Scams Inc. A government registered crime victims' assistance & crime prevention nonprofit organization based in Miami, Florida, U.S.A. SCARS supports the victims of scams worldwide and through its partners in more than 60 countries around the world. Incorporated in 2015, its team has 30 years of continuous experience educating and supporting scam victims. Visit www.AgainstScams.org to learn more about SCARS. Next Steps™ – You Gave The ScammerScammer A Scammer or Fraudster is someone that engages in deception to obtain money or achieve another objective. They are criminals that attempt to deceive a victim into sending more or performing some other activity that benefits the scammer. Your Information?
NOTE: THIS GUIDE IS PRIMARILY FOR AMERICAN VICTIMS, HOWEVER, THE PROCESS APPLIES TO MANY COUNTRIES
You Gave The Scammer Your Id And Maybe Even Access To Your Banking Or Credit Cards?
NOW WHAT DO YOU DO?
First, let us say you are not alone. A significant number of scamScam A Scam is a confidence trick - a crime - is an attempt to defraud a person or group after first gaining their trust through deception. Scams or confidence tricks exploit victims using their credulity, naïveté, compassion, vanity, irresponsibility, or greed and exploiting that. Researchers have defined confidence tricks as "a distinctive species of fraudulent conduct ... intending to further voluntary exchanges that are not mutually beneficial", as they "benefit con operators ('con men' - criminals) at the expense of their victims (the 'marks')". A scam is a crime even if no money was lost. victims give their scammers all kinds of personal information about themselves.
However, this now presents some very severe risks to you. The exact nature of the risks depends on what information you gave to your scammer.
If you gave your address, you do not really have to worry about the scammers coming in the middle of the night – they are scammers – they lie for a living. But if you are fearful contact your local police about this.
The greater danger is what they can do with this information.
Understanding Identity TheftIdentity Theft Identity theft is when someone uses another person's personal identifying information, without their permission, to commit fraud or other crimes. In both the U.K. and the United States it is the theft of personally identifiable information. Identity theft deliberately uses someone else's identity as a method to gain financial advantages or obtain credit and other benefits, and perhaps to cause other person's loss. The person whose identity has been stolen may suffer adverse consequences, especially if they are falsely held responsible for the perpetrator's actions. Personally identifiable information generally includes a person's name, date of birth, social security number, driver's license number, bank account or credit card numbers, PINs, electronic signatures, fingerprints, passwords, or any other information that can be used to access a person's financial resources. and How It Affects Scam Victims
Each year, millions discover that a criminalCriminal A criminal is any person who through a decision or act engages in a crime. This can be complicated, as many people break laws unknowingly, however, in our context, it is a person who makes a decision to engage in unlawful acts or to place themselves with others who do this. A criminal always has the ability to decide not to break the law, or if they initially engage in crime to stop doing it, but instead continues. has fraudulently used their personal information to obtain goods and services and that they have become victims of identity theft.
Under U.S. federal law, identity theft occurs when someone uses or attempts to use the sensitive personal information of another person to commit fraudFraud In law, fraud is intentional deception to secure unfair or unlawful gain (money or other assets), or to deprive a victim of a legal right. Fraud can violate civil law (e.g., a fraud victim may sue the fraud perpetrator to avoid the fraud or recover monetary compensation) or criminal law (e.g., a fraud perpetrator may be prosecuted and imprisoned by governmental authorities), or it may cause no loss of money, property, or legal right but still be an element of another civil or criminal wrong. The purpose of fraud may be monetary gain or other benefits, for example by obtaining a passport, travel document, or driver's license, or mortgage fraud, where the perpetrator may attempt to qualify for a mortgage by way of false statements. A fraud can also be a hoax, which is a distinct concept that involves deliberate deception without the intention of gain or of materially damaging or depriving a victim.. A wide range of sensitive personal information can be used to commit identity theft, including a person’s name, address, date of birth, Social Security number (SSN), driver’s license number, credit card and bank account numbers, phone numbers, and even biometric data like fingerprints and iris scans. Other countries have similar laws.
- FTC Identity Theft Complaint
- FTCFTC The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is an independent agency of the United States government whose principal mission is the enforcement of civil (non-criminal) U.S. antitrust law and the promotion of consumer protection. The FTC can also act as a clearinghouse for criminal reports sent to other agencies for investigation and prosecution. To learn more visit www.FTC.gov or to report fraud visit ReportFraud.FTC.gov Complete Identity Theft Website: www.IdentityTheft.gov
- Taxpayer Guide to Identity Theft
- Identity Theft at USA.gov
New & Existing Financial Accounts
The most common form of identity theft, and the main focus of this article, involves the fraudulent use of a victim’s personal information for financial gain.
THERE ARE TWO MAIN TYPES OF SUCH FINANCIAL FRAUDS:
- Using the victim’s existing credit, bank, or other accounts
- A victim of existing account misuse often can resolve problems directly with the financial institution, which will consider the victim’s prior relationship with the institution and the victim’s typical spending and payment patterns.
- Opening new accounts in the victim’s name
- A victim of new account identity theft usually has no preexisting relationship with the creditor to help prove the victim is not responsible for the debts.
- The new account usually is reported to one or more credit reporting agencies (CRA), where it then appears on the victim’s credit report. Since the thief does not pay the bills, the account goes to collections and appears as a bad debt on the victim’s credit report. Often, the victim does not discover the existence of the account until it is in collection.
- The victim must prove to the creditor that the victim is not responsible for the account and clear the bad debt information from the victims’ credit report.
MANY TIMES VICTIMS EXPERIENCE BOTH!
The Goals for Victims
Before you begin all of this, you need to prepare yourself for what might happen. You may be lucky and nothing happens, but if it did or does you are going to spend a substantial amount of time working through it. You will have to learn a great amount of information, follow new and confusing processes, and be very careful in your record keeping. But eventually, just like with the scam itself, you will make it through the other side.
This Guide will help you assist a victim achieve three goals:
- Stopping or minimizing further fraud from occurring
- Proving that identity theft has occurred and that the victim is not responsible for debts incurred in her name and
- Correcting any errors on the victim’s credit report to restore their financial reputation and credit score
Step 1: Notify Your Bank And Credit Card Company
If a scammer was given your banking information or credit card information then they can use that information to steal from your account or illegally buy things on your credit card. A huge number of victims do this, and the products purchased with the stolen card numbers or banking information are sent to parcel mules or trans-shippers. If you gave the information away you must report this to the police or you could face liability for the use of your accounts and the purchases. This could lead to money launderingMoney laundering Money laundering is the illegal process of concealing the origins of money obtained illegally by passing it through a complex sequence of banking transfers or commercial transactions. Money laundering can be done through various mediums, leveraging a variety of payment vehicles, people and institutions., bank fraud, credit card fraudCard Fraud Card Fraud is one of the most commonly referenced fraud definitions. It occurs when a fraudster uses a card (debit or credit) to make a purchase without the authorization of the cardholder. Card fraud can occur in-person or through digital channels., or other charges.
Be very clear with your financial institutions. Tell them you were scammed and give them the police report number. (You got that in the SCARS 3 Steps that you read – remember?)
If you have not reported the scam to the police, do it right now! This is very serious and you must do it.
Step 2: Realize You Are Now Dealing With Possible Identity Theft
What is identity theft?
Identity theft occurs when someone uses your personal information such as your name, Social Security number (SSN) or other identifying information, without your permission, to commit fraud or other crimes. In the case of scam victims, you may have given this information to your scammer.
Step 3: Your Tax Records Can Be Affected & May Be At Risk
How do you know if your tax records have been affected?
Usually, a scammer or an identity thief uses a legitimate taxpayer’s identity to fraudulently file a tax return and claim a refund. Generally, the identity thief will use a stolen SSN to file a forged tax return and attempt to get a fraudulent refund early in the filing season. Yes, scammers do this!
You may be unaware that this has happened until you file your tax return later in the filing season and discover that two returns have been filed using the same social security or tax identification.
Be alert to possible identity theft if you receive an IRSIRS The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is the revenue & tax service of the United States federal government responsible for collecting taxes and administering the Internal Revenue Code (the main body of federal statutory tax law.) It is part of the Department of the Treasury and led by the Commissioner of Internal Revenue, who is appointed to a five-year term by the President of the United States. The duties of the IRS include providing tax assistance to taxpayers; pursuing and resolving instances of erroneous or fraudulent tax filings; and overseeing various benefits programs. Visit www.IRS.gov to learn more. or TAX notice or letter that states that:
- More than one tax return for you was filed,
- You have a balance due, refund offset or have had collection actions taken against you for a year you did not file a tax return, or
- IRS records indicate you received wages from an employer unknown to you.
What to do if your tax records were affected by identity theft?
If you receive a notice from IRS or your TAX agency, respond immediately. If you believe someone may have used your SSN fraudulently, please notify IRS or your TAX agency immediately (after reporting the scam to your police) by responding to the name and number printed on the notice or letter. If you live in the U.S. you will need to fill out the IRS Identity Theft Affidavit, Form 14039.
For victims of identity theft who have previously been in contact with the IRS and have not achieved a resolution, please contact the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit, toll-free at 1-800-908-4490
How can you protect your tax records?
If your tax records are not currently affected by identity theft, but you believe you may be at risk due to a lost/stolen purse or wallet, questionable credit card activity or credit report, etc., contact the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit at 1-800-908-4490 or the equivalent in your country.
Step 4: Your Credit Files
Placing an Initial Fraud Alert
Placing an initial fraud alert on credit reports will reduce the risk that an identity thief will open new accounts in the victim’s name. An initial fraud alert stays on the victim’s credit file for 90 days, and can be renewed every 90 days. Identity theft victims can place an initial 90-day fraud alert by contacting one of the following three CRAs (Credit Reporting Agencies).
That CRA must, in turn, contact the other two CRAs on the victim’s behalf:
P.O. Box 9532, Allen, TX 75013
Fraud Victim Assistance Division
P.O. Box 6790, Fullerton, CA 92834-6790
P.O. Box 740241
Atlanta, GA 30374-0241
Note: A CRA may request additional proof of identity to place the initial fraud alert, and it may ask you to answer challenge questions–information in her credit report that only the victim would be expected to know.
If you experienced new account identity theft, you should consider placing a credit freezeFreeze Trauma Freeze Response: While fight-or-flight is the better-known way humans respond to certain stressful stimuli, the additional less known third response "FREEZE", was not as widely studied until this last decade. Freezing as a response to a threat might seem effective, a sort of “playing dead” in the face of danger; however, in humans freezing manifests as an inability to communicate, react, make decisions, or take any action of self-preservation or defense. on the credit report.
Getting Copies of Credit Reports
Once you HAVE placed an initial fraud alert on her credit report, the victim is entitled to a free credit report from each of the three CRAs. These free copies of credit reports are in addition to free copy all consumers have a right to each year.
After placing a fraud alert on the credit report, you should receive a confirmation letter from each CRA advising you on how to order a free credit report. Some CRAs may allow the victim to place the fraud alert online. If so, you may be able to order and view the credit report online immediately upon placing the fraud alert. If the victim does not receive a CRA’s confirmation letter, you should contact the CRA directly.
Note: When a victim places a fraud alert on a credit report, the CRA may offer to sell the victim products or services, such as credit monitoring or identity theft insurance. These are optional, and a victim never has to pay anything for a fraud alert or credit file freeze.
Later, when the victim calls the CRA to order the free credit report you are entitled to in conjunction with the fraud alert, the CRA may first direct the victim’s attention to ordering the victim’s free annual credit report, before explaining how you can order the one associated with the fraud alert. This can confuse victims and lead to ordering the free annual report rather than the credit report that is yours by right after placing a fraud alert. Just insist you want the credit report you are entitled to after placing the fraud alert.
Review The Credit Report Carefully
Victims should review their credit report for any accounts they did not open, debts they did not incur, and credit inquiries from companies they have not contacted. They should promptly contact any