You can become a victim of online fraud even if you have taken reasonable measures to protect yourself. The natural reaction to being victimized is to be angry but even though it is difficult to do it is best to think with a level head and follow these steps to minimize the damage to your financial health and begin the steps to recovery. Assembled below is a collection of the best advice from major banks and ftc.gov the leading source on responding to these type of incidents.
Stop the Bleeding
Contact your online bank and/and or credit card company (depending on what type of account you are dealing with) and report the incident. Close affected accounts and open new ones with unique identifiers and new passwords.
Contact your local police department and file a miscellaneous incident report to document the event. You are not doing this to necessarily catch the criminal (although that would be nice) but it is more for documentation purposes should you need backup from damage done to your credit or if your financial company is not offering restitution.
Contact one of the big 3 credit bureaus and place a fraud alert on your credit report.
- Experian: 888-397-3742
- Equifax: 800-525-6285
- Trans Union: 800-680-7289
Assess the Damage
Review all of your affected accounts and document and formally document any issues. Follow-up with the financial institutions and document everything so you can show you took prudent measures if you ever have to (in case the companies are not responsive in compensating you for your loss)
Obtain a current credit report from annualcreditreport.com and review it thoroughly. If you notice any unauthorized accounts contact those businesses immediately and notify them on the phone and in writing immediately that they are fraudulent. The link provided above allows you access to a free annual credit report use it instead of freecreditreport.com, who may have catchy slogans but are looking to sign you up for a monthly fee for your credit report.
Live, Learn & Get Secure
Do some self reflection and try to determine the root cause for how you became a victim. Did you fall for an email phishing scam, click on an insecure website, fail to use anti-virus, or not patch your systems? Use this painful event as an opportunity to improve your approach to information security and review our top 10 information security items you need to do. (or better yet be proactive and do these steps to avoid becoming a victim)