(Last Updated On: July 20, 2021)

What Kind Of People Are Most Likely To Be Scammed?

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. VictimologyVictimology Victimology is the study of victimization, including the psychological effects on victims, relationships between victims and offenders, the interactions between victims and the criminal justice system—that is, the police and courts, and corrections officials—and the connections between victims and other social groups and institutions, such as the media, businesses, and social movements.

A 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. Insight

After A Scam Is Discovered Comes The Debt!

Many Victims Then Have To Face The Truth About New Debt!

As a financial 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. victim, you have to face many hard truths after your scam!

One of them is debt!

You became involved in a scam …

  • You did not want to be scammed, but it happened – you were lured in, groomed, and manipulated expertly.
  • You did what 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. asked – in most cases, this meant that you sent them money.
  • In many cases you did not have the money you sent to the scammer – you borrowed it:
    • You got advances or cash from your credit cards
    • You took out new loans
    • You re-mortgaged your home
    • You borrowed it from friends and family
    • You leveraged other assets to get money
  • Now you have to deal with this reality – you owe money, potentially a large amount!

Now That The Scam Is Over

You now have to deal with your real financial situation at the same time as you are going through grief and the traumaTrauma Emotional and psychological trauma is the result of extraordinarily stressful events that shatter your sense of security, making you feel helpless in a dangerous world. Psychological trauma can leave you struggling with upsetting emotions, memories, and anxiety that won’t go away. It can also leave you feeling numb, disconnected, and unable to trust other people. Traumatic experiences often involve a threat to life or safety or other emotional shocks, but any situation that leaves you feeling overwhelmed and isolated can result in trauma, even if it doesn’t involve physical harm. It’s not the objective circumstances that determine whether an event is traumatic, but your subjective emotional experience of the event. The more frightened and helpless you feel, the more likely you are to be traumatized. Trauma requires treatment, either through counseling or therapy or through trauma-oriented support programs, such as those offered by SCARS. that was left behind.

We know that the financial aftermath from your scam can be as devastating as the emotional side – both contribute to your trauma and will make it hard to recover. A successful recovery program must guide you through both sides. SCARS understands this!

There are ONLY Three Options for you at this point:

  1. Ignore it – stay in denialDenial Denial is a refusal or unwillingness to accept something or to accept reality. Refusal to admit the truth or reality of something, refusal to acknowledge something unpleasant; And as a term of Psychology: denial is a defense mechanism in which confrontation with a personal problem or with reality is avoided by denying the existence of the problem or reality. and pretend it will all just go away
  2. Procrastinate – you know you have to deal with it, but just not today
  3. Confront it – take control of the situation and work through each point of pain until they are all under control and you have a clear financial path forward

Obviously, Each Victim’s Situation Is Different

Each scam victim did different things to satisfy their scammer. From credit card debt, to loanshark loans, to home mortgages. Regardless of the details, they cannot be ignored forever. Besides, trying to live in denial will always make things worse – potentially much worse – much depends on the country where you live and the kinds of debts.

International Issues

SCARS supports scam victims worldwide. Because of this, not all information applies in every country. Make sure that you understand what is appropriate, possible, and safe for your country.

You Are Going To Face It!

Dealing with your debt will come after you have the rest of the scam under control, but it will not wait for long. Payments will have to be made, legal decisions need to be considered.

In our experience, that average victim will delay from one month to a year before really taking firm control of their finances and debt. We can’t tell you what is right for you, because we are not financial professions, and because each person’s situation is somewhat different. But it is important to talk with professionals that can help you sort through this.

The SCARS FOUR STEPS

As a victim, there will be FOUR major steps to your financial control and recovery:

  1. Regain Control

  2. Control The Damage

  3. Confront The Debt

  4. Debt Management

In each one, you are going to be facing many difficult processes and emotional challenges, but it becomes easier the more you plan. Having a step-by-step plan helps reduce stress and further trauma. The single biggest value in all this is a sense of regained control and certainty – when you have a plan, you have a sense of what the future will bring, even if it is not great – at least you know and can deal with facts. Uncertainty can make it much harder to both recover control and work through your emotional pain.


STEP 1: Regain Control

The first step in regaining control is to know what your real dept is – how much, what is due and when. This is basic debt management & planning.

Start by listing every debt that you have, along with expenses and obligations on a piece of paper (or spreadsheet). You have to learn what is really out there. Include everything, even how much you plan to spend of food, utilities, and more – all of it must be accounted for – or you will set yourself up for surprises.

Catalog Your Debts

First, create a list of all your debts. You should have done this already in STEP 1 above – this can include money owed on:

  • credit cards
  • student loans
  • auto loans
  • medical bills
  • personal loans
  • all other financings
  • Other obligations that must be paid on a monthly or regular basis

The list of your debts should include:

  • the name of the lender
  • type of loan or obligation (category)
  • total amount owed
  • interest rate
  • minimum payment due each month

You can also include the contact info of each lender, and any other pertinent details (i.e., terms, fees).

Make sure your info is up-to-date and accurate.


STEP 2: Control The Damage

After you really learn what you have to face, begin the painful process to talking with every person or business or government that you owe money to. Yes, you have to do this.

This will serve many purposes, from buying you time to sort through it, to stopping or delaying debt collection activities. You will ned time to recover emotionally too, and adding the financial issues will be hard. Do what you can to give yourself space and time to recover, but don’t hide from it – what you hide from will come back to haunt you.

Make sure you prioritize your debts carefully – talk to all of them, but give the most attention to those that are going to be the worst for you.

Make a list of your creditor and go through them one by one and inform them that you are the victim of financial fraud (they don’t need the details) – but they will require the police report number – make sure you have it.

Ask them about:

  • In what ways can you delay payments
  • Can you change payment amounts or extend the loan repayment
  • Do they have programs for partial or complete debt forgivenessForgiveness What Is Forgiveness? Psychologists generally define forgiveness as a conscious, deliberate decision to release feelings of resentment or vengeance toward a person or group who has harmed you, regardless of whether they actually deserve your forgiveness.
  • Can they help you in debt planning and creditor management
  • Did you have any type of insurance on their debt

STEP 3: Confront The Debt

This is where you have to face the music – as the saying goes. You have to face your reality and make choices about the direction you take.

3.a – Debt Management

After you have done the above and you have the answers to those questions, you are ready to lay out a realistic debt management plan.

There are two basic ways to work a debt management plan:

  1. Do it yourself – you plan and then work the plan
  2. You hire a service provider (third-party) to do it for you

You can do all the work yourself and maintain personal control over it all. This has many advantages, but may also be difficult if you are still dealing with the emotional grief and trauma of the scam. It may make more sense to work with a debt relief or management provided to help keep it all strain, and potentially even handle the payments for you – this makes it much easier for you to avoid the additional trauma of having to speak with debt collectors – they do it all for you.

In the sections below we will explore Do It Yourself Debt Management.

You may wish to start by talking to a credit counselingCounseling Counseling is the professional guidance of the individual by utilizing psychological methods especially in collecting case history data, using various techniques of the personal interview, and testing interests and aptitudes. A mental health counselor (MHC), or counselor, is a person who works with individuals and groups to promote optimum mental and emotional health. Such persons may help individuals deal with issues associated with addiction and substance abuse; family, parenting, and marital problems; stress management; self-esteem; and aging. They may also work with "Social Workers", "Psychiatrists", and "Psychologists". SCARS does not provide mental health counseling. service. Here is what you can expect when talking to one – click here.

3.b – Debt Elimination (Bankruptcy)

Depending on the types of debts and what you learned in STEP 2 – you may be able to obtain forgiveness or write-off of some or your debts, but probably not all. You may have to consider bankruptcy.

We cannot advise you about this choice or the details that will be specific to you. For this, you will need to find a licensed bankruptcy attorney or solicitor to explore these options.

Here is a directory service to help you locate them: Best Bankruptcy Lawyers Near Me – Attorney Ratings | FindLaw

However, before you go there, make sure you have fully explored all of your other financial options first. Once you jump into bankruptcy all other options become unavailable.


STEP 4: Debt Management

If you are going to try to manage your own debt, you will need a plan.

4.a – What is a Debt Management Plan?

A debt management plan (or DMP) is a way to get yourself out of debt and rebuild your credit and control your life, all while making monthly payments that fit your budget. They can be extremely beneficial for someone who is in over their head with debt and needs help getting a handle on it.

While participating in a debt management plan, you’ll also learn how to manage your money better so that you can avoid falling into debt again in the future.

How It Works

A debt management plan is a system that allows you to pay one monthly payment that covers all of your included debt. Essentially, once your creditors agree to the plan, you make a single payment each month to the facilitator of your debt management plan. It is not a loan, however, and your monthly payment is divided and dispersed to your creditors every month.

When you request a debt management plan and your creditors agree to it, they will often lower your interest rate and waive any late fees that you currently have. They will also agree to a set monthly payment that has your account paid in full in no more than five years. If you cannot do this in 5 years, then bankruptcy may be the right option.

While you’re in a debt management plan, your credit accounts will be closed and you will not be able to use those accounts for any new charges. You will also not be strongly discouraged from opening any new lines of credit, as creditors offer you perks (reduced interest, waived fees) with the idea that you’ll focus on paying off your debt and not creating new debts.

The Cost

Yes, there can be a cost, but it is not much and it will vary depending on the amount of debt you’re repaying and the state/country where you live, and the specific service provider. If you work with a nonprofit credit counseling agency, there will likely be two fees: an ongoing monthly fee and a one-time set-up fee. Monthly fees may be a percentage of your monthly DMP payment, or a flat fee (again depending on where you have residence).

With many of the better providers, the average monthly fee is around US$24, with a maximum of $50 (depending on regulation, country, and type of entity.) The average set-up fee is $33, with a maximum of $75. Fee waivers and fee reductions are available for consumers with hardships – just ask your credit counselor if you qualify.

How You Sign Up For One

Your best, and easiest possible approach may be to work with an accredited nonprofit credit counseling agency. They’re not all the same though. Do your homework and search their Better Business Bureau or other national rantings to find a reputable company.

Contact the one you’re most interested in working with and schedule an appointment for a complimentary counseling session. This will allow you the opportunity to discuss your financial situation with a credit counselor, review your options, and see if a debt management plan is right for you.

Remember, they are not YOUR financial planners – they have a mission that may be different than yours – we encourage you to talk with a real financial professional about all your possible options.

If you’re not opposed to putting in some long hours on the phone, you can set up your own debt management plan. If you’re having trouble keeping up with your payments, creditors may be willing to work with you. But there’s no guarantee that you’ll receive the same interest rate reductions and other benefits if you go it alone. It is a question of trust and how much effort your creditors have to put in to work with your directly.

Making the decision to create a debt management plan can be a responsible way out of debt, but it is not right for everyone. If you’re considering one, talk to a credit counselor about your options.

SCARS cannot recommend any specific credit counseling company. However, in the United States, we recommend that you consider NCFF Members in good standing with solid Better Business Bureau ratings (A+).

4.b – Will A Debt Management Plan Work For You?

Here are some things to consider when deciding whether or not to use a debt management plan:

You Must Have A Source Of Income

No repayment option will work for you if you don’t have some form of income. When a nonprofit credit counseling agency administers a DMP, they are obligated to ensure that the plan is affordable and works as part of a balanced budget.

If you barely have the income needed to manage your basic essentials (food, shelter, etc.), then debt repayment should not be your top priority and a DMP is unlikely to be a good idea until you can increase your income. This is where bankruptcy comes into this again.

However, if you have a steady income, but are just struggling to make your debt payments balance against the rest of your budget, then a DMP may be a great choice for you.

High-Interest Rates

A DMP is likely to reduce most or all of your high-interest credit card rates, allowing more of your monthly payments to go towards the principal. This will allow you to pay down your debts quicker. In fact, most DMPs are repaid within 3-5 years.

Missed Payments

Missed payments don’t disqualify you from a potential DMP. In fact, there are usually no credit requirements for a DMP, so unlike many consolidation loans, if your credit has suffered from missed payments you can still qualify for a DMP. Creditors will also often bring your account current after you have made a certain number of consecutive payments through your DMP.

Luxuries & New Debt

You probably will not be able to do that.

Accounts included on a DMP are usually closed or frozen by the creditor. Because the age of your accounts is a factor in most credit scoring models (and older accounts are better for your score), this means that your credit score may fall immediately after starting a DMP. If you need your credit in premium shape for a major purchase (home, car, etc.), then you may want to wait before starting a DMP or look into another option, like a low-interest consolidation loan. We do not suggest this for scam victims – we suggest that you forget normal life as it was for a while, and stay laser-focused on financial survival.

Your Credit Score / Credit Quality

If your score is already low because of missed payments, then a DMP may be a good option. The truth, however, is that any option (besides potentially debt settlement) can be a good way to help rebuild your credit, providing that you:

  • Make payments consistently each month, as agreed upon, and
  • Pay off your debts in full.

The DMP’s single, consolidated payment and reduced interest costs can certainly help you rebuild your credit over time, but that only works if you’re able keep making your payments straight through to the end.

Help Staying Accountable

Scam victims frequently avoid dealing with challenges. The DMP actually is a good way to reduce your stress because it reduces the number of people you have to deal with. It simplifies your life by giving you a financial advocate that you can really work with – assuming that you qualify.

One unique benefit of using a DMP through a nonprofit credit counseling agency is that it comes with continual support and assistance from a team of trained financial educators and counselors. If you’re self-directed and only need the boost of a lower interest rate and consolidated payment, then a low-interest consolidation loan may be what you need. But if you feel you might need a little extra support to give yourself time to heal and to set and stick to your new goals, then a DMP may be the way to go.

Ultimately, anyone with more credit card debt than they can comfortably handle can potentially benefit from a DMP. It is simply a matter of deciding whether or not the benefits of a DMP meet your unique needs.

4.c – Creating Your Own Debt Management Plan

There are plenty of organizations that can help, but if you want to do it yourself and you like handling things on your own?

You may be able to do it – but you may also be foolish to try. We cannot tell you the answer here. But you must be realistic.

Doing It Yourself

You should consider doing it yourself ONLY if:

  • You are able to handle the additional emotional load of managing your finances and dealing with creditors – this is not easy! But can help you maintain control. Or,
  • You live in a country where debt management services are not available.

Those are the only two reasons to do it yourself. Do not let pride or shameShame Shame is an unpleasant self-conscious emotion typically associated with a negative evaluation of the self; withdrawal motivations; and feelings of distress, exposure, mistrust, powerlessness, and worthlessness. enter into this. If you are in trouble over your debt, do what is best for you.

Beginning

By being organized, diligent, and having determination and commitment, you can become debt-managed by yourself through your own debt management plan.

4.d – Step by Step

The following is a step-by-step approach to creating a debt repayment program and implementing it on your own.

4.d.1 – Create Your Plan

When it comes to figuring out the best tactic, two popular debt repayment methods are the:

    • “Avalanche” debt payoff method, or
    • “Snowball” debt payoff method

No matter which strategy you choose, you’ll want to make the minimum payments on all your debts. You want to create a plan you can manage and maintain based upon your income and otherwise, your credit will suffer.

AVALANCHE DEBT PAYOFF METHOD

With the avalanche debt payoff method, you focus on paying the debt with the highest interest rate first or as a priority. Once that “mother of debts” is paid off, you take the money you have been putting toward it toward the debt with the second-highest interest rate, and so forth.

In other words, triage – stop the worst bleeding first!

A major benefit of this method is that you’ll save money on the interest. The downside is that because it can take a while to pay off that first debt, you may find yourself struggling to stay motivated. Also, it depends on the patience of other creditors.

SNOWBALL DEBT PAYOFF METHOD

There are two major differences with the snowball debt payoff method.

With the avalanche method, you pay based on the interest rate, with the snowball method you pay based on the balance.

The other major difference is that you start with the smallest amount, then work your way up. Canceling one debt at a time – smallest to largest, but again, this depends on the willingness of your creditors.

A big advantage of the snowball debt method is that you’ll enjoy success earlier. It is quite a satisfying feeling to pay off your first debt, and if you do it earlier in your plan, chances are you’re more likely to keep the momentum going and this also becomes therapeutic. A downside is that you may be paying more in interest on your loans over the long term.

4.d.2. – Prioritize Your Debts

Rearrange your debts in order of which one you’d like to tackle first. After doing some analysis, figure out how much money you’ll be paying on each date, and the target date to pay it off. That’ll help you stay organized and on track.

FOCUS ON A SINGLE DEBT

No matter which repayment method you decide on, focus on reducing one debt at a time. it will help you make greater progress, and it will make it easier to track and manage your debts.

Plus, because you are managing one debt instead of spreading your efforts among several, you can pay more of the principal. In turn, you’ll save more on interest. But remember, it depends on what your creditors will access – but you start with your plan and then work on getting the agreement of your creditors – keep the horse in front of the cart!

4.d.3. – Stop Accumulating More Debt

Try to close or 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. your credit card accounts while you are in debt payoff mode.

While you’re paying off debt, you definitely want to avoid accumulating more debt. Otherwise, you may find yourself feeling like you’re taking a step backward, ending up at the beginning. Your motivation and stress matter!

Note: Closing a credit card could negatively impact your credit. That’s because your balance-to-limit ratio, or credit utilization ratio, is affected when you close a card. Your credit utilization ratio is the outstanding balance on all your cards against the maximum limit on all your cards combined.

Generally, if the spending limit on all your cards is $30,000, and you have a balance of $9,000, your credit utilization ratio is 30 percent. (The lower your credit utilization ratio the better. A general rule of thumb is to keep it under 30 percent.) When you close a credit card, depending on the limit on that particular card and your total outstanding balance, your credit card score could get dinged.

If you’re not quite ready to close out your credit cards with debt, many credit cards now have a “freeze card” option where you can momentarily hit the “pause” button on your card.

4.d.4 – Cut Expenses

When paying off debt, see where you can cut back on your expenses. Lowering living expenses means more money can go toward your debt.

A few pointers on slashing expenses:

DEFINE ALL OF YOUR EXPENSES

If you don’t already have a budget, figure out what your expenses are. This includes everything from rent, bills, monthly subscriptions, gas, insurance, food, entertainment, and shopping.

GO FOR THE BIG EXPENSES

Your three major spending categories are housing, transportation, and food. If you can save on any one of these three spending areas, you can save larger amounts of money each month.

GO FOR THE EASY EXPENSES

Easy wins on slashing expenses include recurring expenses. This includes car insurance, bills, and monthly subscriptions. Contact the company and see if there are any discounts, or negotiate for a lower rate. You may be able to save by enrolling in autopay or making a yearly payment instead of a monthly one.

Another way to gain easy wins is to nix stuff you aren’t using. For instance, if it is been a while since you last stepped foot in a gym, cancel your gym membership.

Be sure to check out all our budget guides for thorough advice on slashing common expenses.

4.d.5 – Can You Add Income?

See if there are any growth opportunities at your current job or other income to earn more, this can include starting or increasing the payout of your retirement or investment accounts (if you have any.) If you have been a valuable employer, either by helping the company save money, make more money, make things more efficient, or reducing stress on your team, use that as leverage for a raise or a bonus.

Outside of your job, look for ways to earn more money by way of a side job. There are plenty of ways to make extra money, such as tutoring, pet sitting, ride-sharing, freelance writing, consulting, on services like www.FIVRR.com, and so forth.

Commit to any extra cash you receive toward your debt. This includes not only money from a raise, bonus, or side job, but cash gifts and small windfalls that come your way.

4.d.6 – Understand Your Credit Rating Or Status

This does not apply in all countries. But if it does, try to find out what your rating is now. Even though you may be in survival mode, it is important to do your best to come out of this with as good a credit rating as you can.

ORDER A CREDIT REPORT

In the U.S. paying off your debt affects your credit, it is important to keep tabs on your credit when paying off your debts. You’ll also want to check your credit report to see if there are any inaccuracies in your personal information, payment history, and debts listed. Debts that are unpaid and have been sent to a collection agency also usually show up on your credit report. You’ll be able to see which agency the debts have gone to.

If you need to file a dispute, you’ll need to contact the credit bureau agency directly. The credit bureau typically has 30 days to to investigate your dispute.

You can order a credit report for free at AnnualCreditReport.com. You’re able to order one from each of the three major credit bureaus—TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax—during a 12-month period. While your credit report is free of charge, there’s typically an additional fee to see your credit score.

THE OTHER NIGHTMARE

Another reason to look at your credit report is to see if your scammers stole your identity and created more debt for you! Click here to learn more about Protecting Your Financial Identity as a scam victim.

MONITOR YOUR CREDIT

This depends on the country where you live, but while paying off your debt, monitoring your credit will help you see how your debt payoff efforts are boosting your credit. As you pay off debts and lower your balances, your score typically goes up.

There are a handful of free credit monitoring services that allows you to monitor your credit and check your credit score for free (see what may be appropriate for you.) Many popular money management appsApps Applications or Apps An application (software), commonly referred to as an ‘app’ is a program on a computer, tablet, mobile phone or device. Apps are designed for specific tasks, including checking the weather, accessing the internet, looking at photos, playing media, mobile banking, etc. Many apps can access the internet if needed and can be downloaded (used) either for a price or for free. Apps are a major point of vulnerability on all devices. Some are designed to be malicious, such as logging keystrokes or activity, and others can even transport malware. Always be careful about any app you are thinking about installing. and credit card companies also allow you to check your credit score.

You’ll also want to get a credit report to make sure your payment history, balances, and so forth are reflected accurately and are what you think they are. As you can get a free report every year from each of the three credit bureaus, you can stagger receiving them throughout the year. (The pandemic has made this more flexible, but check to be sure.)

4.d.7 – Contact Your Creditors & Negotiate With The Collection Agencies

While this may feel intimidating, remember: It is in both party’s best interest to get your debts paid off. When talking to a rep from the lender, you can work with them on a repayment schedule, and possibly negotiate for a lower interest rate or pay a lower amount than what you originally owe.

Before giving a call, have as much information on hand as possible. Know that it usually requires more than a single call and could take a series of calls before you come to an agreement. Patience is key.

Talking to creditors and collection agencies is hard, but essential. For any debts that have gone to collection agencies or processes, you’ll need to contact the agency or entity directly to create an agreement on a payment plan. You’ll also want to be prepared to make an offer. At the end of the day, lenders want to have the debt cleared, so they may be open to accepting less than the original amount owed.

MAKE IT EASY TO PAY OFF YOUR DEBTS

While paying off debt requires a lot of effort, there are ways to make it “easier,” so to speak. Besides negotiating on the outstanding balance, a few things that could help you make payments on time:

SET UP AUTO-PAY

The fewer steps you have to take when paying off your debt, the easier it will be. Set up auto-pay on all your debts. That’ll ensure on-time payments. But be careful – auto-payments will happen automatically once they are set up – if you think you may have some momentary challenges, it may be better to keep manual control of this.

MAKE EXTRA PAYMENTS

Besides making more than the minimum payment each month, aim to make an extra payment each month. If you’re feeling particularly ambitious, aim to make weekly payments. However, keep the long view in mind. Do not over-pay if you may need money for something else. It is better to stick to the plan even it you are impatient – success is more important than speed.

SEE IF YOU CAN MOVE THE PAYMENT DUE DATES

If you’re having problems paying on time, contact your lenders immediately to see if you can move the dates payments.

4.d.8 – Consider Debt Consolidation

There are several ways to consolidate your debts:

    • TRANSFER YOUR DEBTS TO A ZERO PERCENT TRANSFER CREDIT CARD – If you have strong credit, you might qualify for a credit card with a zero percent introductory interest rate. If that’s the case, it could help simplify payments and save you money on interest.
    • CONSOLIDATE DEBT BY TAKING OUT A NEW LOAN – Once again, if you have strong credit, it could potentially save you money on interest or make it easier for you to manage your debt. However, if you have poor credit, be prepared for high-interest rates. In that case, it may not be worth it.
    • CONSIDER REFINANCING – If you have strong credit and high-interest debts, refinancing your debt could help you lower your interest rate, have smaller monthly payments, and help you save money overall. Conversely, if you have poor credit you may not be able to get the best terms and rates. Before deciding, shop around and ask questions to make sure it is the right choice for you.

Know It Is An Emotional Journey

A lot of strong emotions come with having debt, especially for the victims of financial fraud.

For example, grief, denialDenial Denial is a refusal or unwillingness to accept something or to accept reality. Refusal to admit the truth or reality of something, refusal to acknowledge something unpleasant; And as a term of Psychology: denial is a defense mechanism in which confrontation with a personal problem or with reality is avoided by denying the existence of the problem or reality., shame, fear, stress, anxiety, and angerAnger Anger, also known as wrath or rage, is an intense emotional state involving a strong uncomfortable and non-cooperative response to a perceived provocation, trigger, hurt or threat. About one-third of scam victims become trapped in anger for extended periods of time following a scam. A person experiencing anger will often experience physical effects, such as increased heart rate, elevated blood pressure, and increased levels of adrenaline and noradrenaline. Some view anger as an emotion that triggers a part of the fight or flight response. Anger becomes the predominant feeling behaviorally, cognitively, and physiologically. Anger can have many physical and mental consequences. While most of those who experience anger explain its arousal as a result of "what has happened to them", psychologists point out that an angry person can very well be mistaken because anger causes a loss in self-monitoring capacity and objective observability.. Some days your debt may feel like it is eclipsing joy and happiness in your life. And guess what? That’s perfectly normal.

It is helpful to know that when it comes to carrying debt, you’re certainly not alone.

By understanding that it is a process, a part of your scam recovery, and accepting the emotions that come with debt, you’ll be able to manage your payments, but your emotional and mental well-being as well.

Stay Motivated

Because paying off debt can be a long and arduous journey, you’ll need to tap into your arsenal of motivational tactics to stay on top of your plan.

That is what we are here to help you with – join one of our support groupsSupport Groups In a support group, members provide each other with various types of help, usually nonprofessional and nonmaterial, for a particular shared, usually burdensome, characteristic, such as romance scams. Members with the same issues can come together for sharing coping strategies, to feel more empowered and for a sense of community. The help may take the form of providing and evaluating relevant information, relating personal experiences, listening to and accepting others' experiences, providing sympathetic understanding and establishing social networks. A support group may also work to inform the public or engage in advocacy. They can be supervised or not. SCARS support groups are moderated by the SCARS Team and or volunteers. or our victims’ forum at www.ScamVictimSupport.org

However, you are going to be doing the heavy lifting. Do not expect anyone to save you, you have to make the effort and do the work.

Track Your Progress

Get creative and go beyond templates and spreadsheets. You can track your progress by way of a debt thermometer, or create a grid of squares, with each square representing $100. Each time you pay off $100, color in each square.

We also recommend that you add your debt management to your scam victims’ journal – log important milestones and temporary setbacks!

Celebrate Your Wins

It is important to celebrate minor victories along the way, no matter how small.

Treat yourself to something simple each time you have passed a checkpoint. And once you have made your last payment on an individual debt, do something special to commemorate the occasion (within reason, of course). After all the hard work and perseverance you have put into debt repayment, you certainly deserve it.

Who Is Likely To Become A Victim?

The Answer Is More Surprising Than You Might Think!

Over the last 6 years, SCARS has provided services to nearly 7 million scam & cybercrimeCybercrime Cybercrime is a crime related to technology, computers, and the Internet. Typical cybercrime are performed by a computer against a computer, or by a hacker using software to attack computers or networks. victims. Through our interactions within our support groups, website visitor comments, emails, and other communications we have learned important insights about the demographics of scam victims. Additionally, our team has 30 years of continuous experience educating scam victims and the public about these dangers.

Here is an overview of scam victims from Psychology Today magazine (July 2021):

  • In 2020, 50 million Americans lost money in scamsScams 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.. Anyone can be targeted, but research suggests some individuals are more vulnerable.
  • Susceptibility to scams may depend on the nature of the scam, demographic characteristics, and personality traits.
  • People can avoid scams by buying time before making a decision, seeking trusted advice, and staying up to date on current scams.

This paints a fairly dismal view of what is happening. But a large part of what makes a person susceptible to becoming the victim of a scam is complex. In this article, we will explore some of those factors.

The First Thing You Must Learn

The first thing you must learn is that most people (not all, just most) do not really know what they are talking about when it comes to scams!

Why is that?

Because they are not doing the research to really understand the problem. Most articles about scams are just information copied over and over. So the same things are being told endlessly and watered down or incorrectly interpreted along the way.

Another reason is that the same biases that help people to become victims applies to those writing about it unless they are careful and have the first-hand experience and knowledge to be a real expert.

Another factor is that everyone wants to solve this problem and tends to think of themselves as experts. But the fact is that instant experts are not experts at all, because they have neither put in the time or had the training and experience to truly understand the global scope of this plague.

Onward To Understanding

As we have said, SCARS deals with one of the largest single groups of scam victims – victims from every culture, every religion, every country. We interact with victims in multiple languages through our multiple offices and partners in over 60 countries around the world. SCARS is also trained and certified in what we do.

This gives us access to knowledge unavailable to most, including hundreds of academic studies and research papers on this topic. However, we also fully admit that there are brilliant academic researchers and scientists working to better understand these phenomena as well; people such as Monica Whittey, Casandra Cross, and others. We are very fortunate to be able to factor their research into the work we do and the victims’ assistance services we provide.

Who’s Most Likely To Become A Scam Victim?

That Is The Question! Who?

The very simple answer is everyone!

But we can break it down into other very likely factors that can contribute to becoming a scam victim. Of course, then that raises the question of who is likely to become a survivorSurvivor A Scam Survivor is a victim who has been able to fully accept the reality of their situation. That they were the victim of a crime and are not to blame. They are working on their emotional recovery and reduction of any trauma either on their own, through a qualified support organization, or through counseling or therapy. And has done their duty and reported the crime to their local police, national police, and on Anyscam.com (someone that successfully recovers) from scams – but that is a topic for other articles (take a look in our Psychology of Scams article catalog to find more about that.)

Not everyone will agree with our analysis on this, but here are the factors that we have observed that contribute to susceptibility to becoming a scam or fraud victim.

NOTE: some of what is going to be said will sound like victim-blamingBlaming Blame or Blaming is the act of censuring, holding responsible, making negative statements about an individual or group that their action or actions are socially or morally irresponsible, the opposite of praise. When someone is morally responsible for doing something wrong, their action is blameworthy. By contrast, when someone is morally responsible for doing something right, we may say that his or her action is praiseworthy. Blame imparts responsibility for an action or act, as in that they made a choice to perform that act or action. – it is NOT. But it is a blunt discussion of the issues and breaking people into classes that contribute to being scammed. Part of the purpose of this document is to provide a little shock value for potential victims, showing the things they are doing that they should not, and the things they are not doing and should. It can also help family members or friends see the characteristics in people they know that could lead someone to become a victim. Additionally, if you see yourself in any of these, you should consider changing the dynamic to be safer online – just change your behaviorBehavior   Behavior / Behavioral Actions Otherwise known as habits, behavior or behavioral actions are strategies to help prevent online exploitation that target behavior, such as social engineering of victims. Changing your behavior is the ONLY effective means to reduce or prevent scams. to line-out each of the factors & characteristics below that apply to yourself!

The Factors

1. Ambivalence Towards Online Risks

A person who generally does not overly care, and is neither aware nor has devoted any real time or attention to the reality of living and working online.

Ambivalence manifests in many ways. For example, we see careless drivers every day on the road, but at least those drivers were forced to take a course and then pass the driver’s license examination to get their license. They have training and were made aware of the risks. The vast majority of online users have never given much thought to their risks or at least very minimal concern.

This contributes to an attitude of invulnerability. Everything is safe, therefore they do not have to worry about it. Ironically, they probably believe that they are cautious or even skeptical in their daily life. They exhibit an attitude that nothing can go wrong, so why should they worry?

They are characterized by:

  • They almost never read guides or information about the online tools they use faithfully, such as Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram
  • They typically believe that the tools they use will look out for them
  • They are often sympathetic but also condescending toward online victims
  • They believe that the world is just and basically safe, and that bad things happen to people who are in the wrong place doing the wrong things
  • They believe that they can handle most things they encounter online

This does not mean that every victim has these characteristics, but people with these characteristics tend to be easy prey. Risk awareness and management are skills that are learned. Most scam victims had no idea of the risks and never bothered to find out until it was too late.

2. Over Sharing & Social

So many use online tools to share information about their lives with friends, peers, and family, without really thinking about the ways that information can be used or abused.

Social media tends to be one of the means that identity thieves rely on to be able to crack identifies, steal passwords, and take over accounts. Sharing is fine when it is done selectively with full privacy protections in place. It is safe when who has access to your content is under your control and you know who they are! Unfortunately, what we find (almost universally) is that victims have their information readily available and completely public before they were scammed.

They are characterized by:

  • They share and post information without any concerns about who might be able to access it or what they can do with it
  • They tend not to understand privacy & security concepts so they ignore them
  • They tend to believe that knowing more people online is a good thing regardless of who they are or where they come from
  • They express their pride in self and friend or family by posting everything everywhere
  • They share regardless of the risks
  • They will accept friend/contact requests from strangers with little or no concerns

Oversharing is directly proportional to a person’s risk online. Most scam victims were over-sharers!

3. Fantastical Thinkers (Idealists)

People have grown up with Disney Fairytales and tend to believe that good things happen to good people. Many believe that they are lucky and good things will come their way. Still more believe that most people are good and honest and believable.

Unfortunately, romance and other kinds of scams tend to prove the opposite. That is not to say that most people, when it suits their self-interest are good, but people are not black and white, almost everyone lives in the gray. Even scammers justify what they do and believe they are not doing anything wrong (well, many of them at least.)

They are characterized by:

  • The world is what their cognitive (confirmation) bias tells them it is
  • They generally believe what they are told and only rarely verify the information they receive
  • They tend to believe the major news sources and that someone on TV or online will not lie
  • They tend to accept marketing and sales stories about products and services without much question
  • They tend to believe what their friends, peers, families, and authority figures tell them (except that uncle who is always making up stories)
  • When they meet someone new online they take them at face value – trusting the stranger that says nice things to them
  • They tend to believe fantastic stories as long as the story develops slowly and methodically over time
  • They tend to be susceptible to careful groomingGrooming Grooming is a form of setting up a victim for a scam or other crime by befriending and establishing an emotional connection with the victim, and sometimes the family, to lower the victim's inhibitions with the objective of the scam or criminal activity.  Grooming includes the development of a trust relationship between the criminal and the victim, getting the victims to the point where they can be more completely manipulated.   – because they want to believe, as controlled by their cognitive biases

4. Needy, Isolated, Alone

When we look across the victim demographics we see select groupings emerge. One of them is people who are alone (and lonely), divorced, or widowed.

People alone have fewer connections in their social circle to help provide feedback and a safety net. They don’t have as many trusted friends or family members that they can talk to about the things going on in their lives. Plus they more desperately need affirmation or attention from others.

In some cases, people have also had past traumas that set them up for victimizationVictimization Victimization (or victimization) is the process of being victimized or becoming a victim. The field that studies the process, rates, incidence, effects, and prevalence of victimization is called victimology.. Past traumas can play a role in their need for approval and acceptance.

They are characterized by:

  • They have a real need for human connection and affirmation
  • They tend to be lonely and need someone to hear and listen to them
  • They desire to have someone in their life even if it is someone they only know online
  • They prefer distance interaction believing there is no commitment and it is safe
  • They are probably divorced or widowed, but might also be a lonely married person looking for someone to talk to

Being needy or alone is not a bad thing in itself, but it can create vulnerabilities that scammers can exploit.

5. Charitable and Caring

Good people care about what happens to others, especially when they are facing hardship. Charitable people donate to good causes and try to help their family or friends when they can. So when a stranger comes along with urgent needs they are (at least initially) eager to help.

They are characterized by:

  • They tend to be trusting of hard-luck stories and willing to help
  • They tend to want to do good with their money
  • Men tend to want to be “White Knights” and save damsels in distress
  • Women tend to be nurturing and generous with the time, attention, and money
  • They will often do favors that will lead to ever greater favors or more money going to a scammer

Being charitable is a good thing, but it can lead to being too generous with strangers and that can be dangerous.

6. Overly Polite With Stangers

People are raised to be polite to others and often to be somewhat passive. When people meet strangers they often take a passive approach to what the stranger suggests, out of fear of offending or a desire to be polite. This creates an opportunity for a stranger to take advantage of them.

They are characterized by:

  • They tend to be very polite when receiving phone calls from strangers
  • They have difficulty disconnecting from telemarketers
  • They tend to listen too long to sales pitches and marketing messages that they are not interested in
  • They have some difficulty asserting themselves to end a conversation
  • They tend to be more passive around other more aggressive people
  • They often wonder if they have been rude with someone they just spoke with
  • They tend to second-guess themselves a lot

These are characteristics of a nice person, but these make for easy targets.

7. Believing They Are Too Intelligent

Often people believe that they are too smart to fall for a scam, a con, a fraud, or deception. Yet the very belief in that makes a person vulnerable because they are relying on an ability that is not backed up by knowledge and skill.

They are characterized by:

  • They often believe they are very intelligent and trust in it when it is not warranted
  • They believe that they have skills or knowledge they do not have
  • They tend to believe that adversaries (scammers) are stupid or dumb
  • They tend to ridicule others who fall for scams and fraud – the victims are dumb to have fallen for it – they never would
  • They tend to have strong cognitive biases, such as confirmational bias – allowing them to see the world as they want it to be, not the way it really is

The problem with people who believe these things is they do not do the work to acquire the skills or the knowledge they need to live in the world safely.

8. Unworldly

The world is not a caring and forgiving place. Nor is it safe for the unwary. Many people have very provincial views of the world and how it operates, and the risks all around them. It is not that they are ambivalent, but they are just unknowing about so much that it makes them very vulnerable.

This is where we see cultural, class, and economic divides or differences play a major role in victimization. People around the world have no idea of what awaits them online or in the real world. They simply don’t know what they don’t know.

They are characterized by:

  • They tend to be less sophisticated about how the world functions – this impacts initial vulnerability and how they approach crime reporting and recovery
  • They tend to expect others to automatically treat them fairly – they deserve respect and truth
  • When something bad happens they tend to believe someone will save them
  • They do not understand very much about other cultures and other mindsets regardless of where they are from
  • They tend to believe that the world is safe and especially the internet – even though they know about local risks and dangers
  • They have large social circles but know few people who can advise them on the outside world
  • Then tend to believe that if they are wronged by someone that the police will fix everything

Unfortunately, these are also people at high risk of suicide when the final realization sets in. We see these kinds of victims all around the world, but more in Asian countries. It is very hard for them to comprehend that there are massive numbers of people just waiting to steal from them.

Summary

There are many characteristics and factors that help to make someone an ideal scam victim candidate. These are but the most common that we see (except for those with mental healthMental health Mental health, defined by the World Health Organization (WHO), is "a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community". According to WHO, mental health includes "subjective well-being, perceived self-efficacy, autonomy, competence, intergenerational dependence, and self-actualization of one's intellectual and emotional potential, among others". From the perspectives of positive psychology or of holism, mental health may include an individual's ability to enjoy life and to create a balance between life activities and efforts to achieve psychological resilience. Cultural differences, subjective assessments, and competing professional theories all affect how one defines "mental health". issues, which we also see often).

If you see yourself in any of these then perhaps these are behaviors that you should consider changing, especially online. You rarely get second chances with professional cybercriminals. Once the door is opened and the conversation begins, they will lay on the grooming and manipulation, until very quickly you are hooked and under their control.

Avoiding scams is about knowledge, not intelligence. Staying safe online is about skills and changing your behaviors to reduce or eliminate risks.

Always Report All Scams – Anywhere In The World To:

U.S. 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 at https://reportfraud.ftc.gov/#/?orgcode=SCARS and SCARS at www.Anyscams.com