What should I do if I’m the victim of a scam?

In today’s digital age, we commonly come across scams that are becoming ever more sophisticated. We’ve got an article on how to avoid being scammed, but even armed with that knowledge, falling victim to a scam can happen to anyone.

Whether it’s online scams, identity theft or card fraud, being a victim of a scam can be distressing and overwhelming.

However, as the number of scams has grown, so has the robustness of the services that can help you recover your money or identity. In this article, we’ll explore what you should do if you think you’ve fallen victim to a scam in the UK.

Three steps to take

Stay calm and act quickly

The first and most crucial step if you suspect you’ve been a victim of a scam is to stay calm and act swiftly. It’s natural to feel panicked or upset, but maintaining a clear head will help you handle the situation effectively.

Be mindful that certain scams falsely claim you’ve fallen victim to a scam, trying to panic you into sharing personal information or making bank transfers. So, stay calm and think clearly. Time is of the essence in scam cases, so don’t delay taking action. The sooner you address the issue, the better chance you have of minimising any potential damage.

Report the scam

If you think you’ve been a victim of a scam, report it immediately by calling Action Fraud, the national fraud and cybercrime reporting centre, where you can also get advice about fraud or cybercrime.

You can do this online or by phone.
Call: 0300 123 2040 
Or visit: actionfraud.police.uk

Importantly, call the police on 999 if you or someone else is in immediate danger or risk of harm.

You should also call the police if:

  • a fraud is in progress or occurred within the last 24 hours
  • you know the suspect and they live in the UK
  • to recover large amounts of money transferred from bank accounts before it can be transferred away

Additionally, if the scam involves your bank account or credit card, contact them straight away to report the suspicious activity. They can help freeze your account, prevent further unauthorised transactions and try to recover your money. Search ‘Report fraud to [your bank/credit card provider’s name]’ to find the right number.

Secure your accounts and personal information

To prevent further fraud and protect yourself in the future, it’s crucial to secure your accounts and personal information.

Change your passwords for all your online accounts, especially if you suspect they’ve been compromised.

Enable two-factor authentication wherever possible for an extra layer of security. Then, even if your password is compromised, a scammer won’t be able to access your account unless they also have your phone or access to your emails. It can feel like extra faff, but it is a very effective measure of protection against scams or fraud.

Be vigilant about sharing personal information online or over the phone – as a rule of thumb, never share passwords and don’t share anything personal unless it was you who contacted them directly. For example, if you receive a phone call from your bank out of the blue, ask them what department they are from then search for the relevant phone number online and say you’ll call them back.

Regularly monitor your bank statements and credit reports for any unusual activity and investigate anything suspicious. 

Being a victim of fraud can be a distressing experience, but knowing what steps to take can help reduce the damage.

Remember to stay calm, report the scam promptly, and take measures to secure your accounts and personal information. By staying vigilant and proactive, you can protect yourself from falling victim to scams in the future.

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