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SCARS Next Steps™ – You Gave 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 scam 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 Theft and How It Affects Scam Victims
Each year, millions discover that a criminal 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 fraud. 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
- FTC 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 laundering, bank fraud, credit card fraud, 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 IRS 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