If you’ve fallen victim to a scam, you need to act quickly to ensure things don’t get any worse. If you were targeted online you should change your passwords as soon as possible – particularly those for your bank and other financial accounts – and you’ll need to inform the relevant authorities. Read on to find out what to do if you’re scammed.
This depends on what’s happened.
If you think you’ve been the victim of a scam or fraud – if money has been taken from your account, for example, you’ve noticed purchases that you don’t recognise on your bank statement or if you think your card details have been stolen – you should contact your bank immediately. You’ll be able to find the number to call on your bank’s website, or you may prefer to go to a branch in person. They’ll then take the necessary steps to protect your account, such as cancelling your card and cheque book and changing your security details, and will stop any further payments being made.
If it’s an emergency – such as if the scam is putting you or someone else in danger – you should call 999. If you’ve just transferred money to someone who you now suspect to be a scammer, you should call 101. In all other scam scenarios, you should report the fraud to the police via Action Fraud. You’ll be given a crime reference number and the scam will be investigated, and you’ll still need to contact your bank and take all other relevant measures to protect your accounts from further harm.
Your bank will take the necessary action to ensure any other bank accounts you hold with them are protected. If you have accounts with another provider, you may want to notify them of the situation so they can take additional security measures – if you’re concerned that scammers may have the details for these accounts as well, you can follow the same steps as above to get your bank cards cancelled and security details changed. Remember to change the details of any online or mobile banking facilities you have, too.
No matter what scam you fell victim to, it’s vital to be on your guard against any potential long-term consequences. If scammers had access to your financial information there’s the chance they could use those details to apply for credit in your name, or if they’ve already got your credit card or bank account details, they could make purchases outright.
This is why it’s essential to regularly check your credit report to keep a lookout for any credit applications that you haven’t made, while also monitoring your bank statements for any unusual transactions. It may be a good idea to sign up for additional fraud monitoring services as well, such as that offered by Experian, which will alert you if any fraudulent activity is suspected and will work with you to put it right.
And, if you think someone has applied for credit in your name, make sure to contact the three main credit reference agencies (TransUnion, Equifax and Experian) and ask for the incorrect information to be removed. They’ll then contact the companies who had fraudulent credit accounts opened to rectify the matter, and you can ask them to set up a ‘notice of correction’ password, which you’ll need to provide if you later apply for credit.
If you’ve had money stolen as a result of fraud or identity theft – if scammers have taken money from your account or used your card to make fraudulent purchases, for example – you should be able to get your money back, provided you tell the bank within 13 months of the unauthorised payment taking place. However, they’ll only do so if you haven’t done anything to jeopardise the security of your account. If they believe you’ve been ‘grossly negligent’, such as if you’ve shared your password or pin with someone, the bank can refuse to refund you, and the only way you’ll be able to get your money back is by taking the scammer to court.
If you’ve transferred money to someone else of your own free will, only to later realise it was a scam, it can be much harder to get your money back. This could be in situations where you paid a fake invoice, or were tricked into transferring money into a scammer’s account. In these kind of scenarios you may be able to get your money back, but only if you meet certain criteria. You’ll need to show that you weren’t being careless, that you followed all security warnings from your bank and genuinely believed that the transaction was above-board, but there’s no guarantee.
If you’re unable to get your money back and are unhappy with the reasons given, you can make a complaint to the Financial Ombudsman. It’s also vital to be even more security-conscious going forward, so find out more about how to protect yourself from scams by reading our guide.
Disclaimer: This information is intended solely to provide guidance and is not financial advice. Moneyfacts will not be liable for any loss arising from your use or reliance on this information. If you are in any doubt, Moneyfacts recommends you obtain independent financial advice.