By now, most internet users are (hopefully) aware of online scams and how to avoid them. Yet most of us simply click on by and ignore those obnoxious ads and emails. Even when we do fall victim to a scam, many of us are either too embarrassed at our own naivete or simply don’t know how to report the crime. But it’s important to know how to report these scams, so they can be shut down and more innocent people won’t be hurt.
Identity Theft. When identity thieves gain access to your personal information, they can drain your bank account and even ruin your credit by getting credit cards and loans in your name. Your first step is to notify your bank and credit card companies. Then call the police, and report the identity fraud to all major credit bureaus (Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax).
Business Scams. Remember the adage: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably isn’t true. You may be promised 2,000 dollars per week in exchange for “just a few hours” of work online. But first you’re supposed to send in fees for registration, supplies, or a training course. These operations are scams, preying upon out-of-work people who desperately need income. Report them to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
Imposters. These scams can appear legitimate, because they come straight from a friend’s or relative’s email account. Of course, the account was hacked by someone who now claims your friend is in some sort of trouble and needs money wired to them right away. Report these scams to law enforcement.
Bad Romance. Users of online dating sites sometimes find themselves heavily involved with someone who never materializes in real life. Eventually, money is requested for some sort of emergency, or so that they can visit you. Report this activity to the dating site so that the profile can be removed.
Investment “Opportunities”. Almost any time someone approaches you with an investment opportunity online, it’s a scam – especially if you’re promised a high rate of return for a very low investment. Report this activity to the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Database Scams. You may find that your personal information has been posted online for the whole world to see – and use. If this happens to you, report the page to the company hosting it and ask for the information to be removed.
Trouble with Foreign Companies. If you’ve ordered an item from overseas that never materializes on your doorstep, check this website from the International Consumer Protection and Enforcement Network.