Protecting yourself from further damage after dealing with scam

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QUINCY — Figuring out what to do in the aftermath of a scam can be incredibly stressful. Better Business Bureau’s Scam Survival Toolkit can help guide survivors of scams through recovery.

Scams affect people of all walks of life. BBB often shares tips on how to avoid scams, but you might still be at risk right after a scam happens.

The truth is that scams don’t just hurt financially. They also impact people emotionally. Survivors of scams are often dealing with feelings of shame, guilt or anger, even though it’s not their fault they were wronged.

Scammers take advantage of strong feelings, and emotions are running high in the days after a scam has occurred, leaving survivors of scams at risk. BBB’s 2023 Scam Tracker Risk Report found that 10 percent of respondents were impacted by a scam three or more times.

The top priority after a scam happens is to protect yourself from further damage. Everyone’s situation is different, but the following steps can start you on the path to securing your money, credit or identity.

For a personalized plan, try BBB’s Scam Survival Toolkit at BBB.org/ScamSurvival. The toolkit will ask questions about your specific situation and walk you through the best steps to take to recover.

How to recover from a scam:

Secure your finances. If you’ve lost money or financial information to a scammer, contact your financial institutions. They may start a fraud investigation or reverse the transactions. If credit card information has been compromised, they can cancel your card and send you a new one.

Protect your credit. If you’ve lost personal information or credit card information, it could be used to steal your identity. Put a fraud alert on your credit reports or freeze your credit. Consider getting a free credit report to monitor your credit for suspicious activity.

Change your password. If a specific account has been hacked, report it to the company and change your password. Follow BBB’s guidelines for creating a strong password, and consider turning on multifactor authentication to protect your account. Monitor your other accounts for suspicious activity.

Look out for recovery scams. Some scammers strike in the aftermath of fraud, offering phony credit repair services or tech support services that steal money or information from people who are already vulnerable.

Talk about it. Scams can happen to anyone, but people often report to BBB that they feel alone in the aftermath of a scam. Ask a friend or family member for support. If you’d like, you can read testimonials from other survivors of scams or share your story with BBB anonymously.

Report the scam. Once you’ve taken steps to protect yourself, report the scam to BBB Scam Tracker to help protect others. 36.6 percent of people who visited BBB Scam Tracker last year said it helped them avoid a scam.

Don O’Brien is the regional director for the Quincy Better Business Bureau. Contact him at dobrien@quincybbb.org or 217-209-3972.

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