Beware of Cybercriminals Waiting to “Help” you After You’ve Already Been Scammed

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Published | January 4, 2024

Did you know a sub-industry of scammers exists to take advantage of the panic you may feel at the point you realize your identity has been stolen? They’re out there waiting to add insult to injury. They may show up in legitimate looking search results or in your social media feed advertising tech support services to “help” restore your locked accounts.

According to Federal Trade Commission, “Americans lost nearly $8.8 billion to scams in 2022.” In addition, tech support scams have cost consumers over $157 million, through the first 9 months of 2023. The Washington Post recently published a list (summarized below) of four suggestions to help “get you through the rough patch without losing more money – and be better prepared for next time.”

Limit Your Losses

Try to prevent additional damage in the immediate aftermath of a scam. If you’ve lost money, call your financial institution to freeze your account(s). In some cases, you can get reimbursed for your loss by your bank or credit card company. To prevent the criminal from using your personal information further, turn on credit monitoring or freeze your credit.

Call A Friend

If you’re uncomfortable with technology, call a family member of friend who can assist you. Large social media companies like Google and Facebook don’t provide a way for you to speak with them, unfortunately. Your friend of family member might be able to use their own personal account(s) to report yours as hacked.

Look Out for Recovery Scams

As a general rule, don’t rely on search engines or Facebook ads to find help. Cybercriminals can purchase ads on these platforms to trick you into thinking you’re dealing with a legitimate restoration company. Just because a company is at the top of the sponsored search results doesn’t mean they are reliable, it just means they paid to have their ad shown. If you do decide to use a company to help restore your identity, be sure to check actual references from people you know and trust.

Report the Scam

Once you’ve taken steps to repair the initial damage, be sure to report the scammer(s). You can start by reporting a cybercrime to your local law enforcement. Your state will also have options for reporting the incident as well. In Virginia, you can check out the Report a Cyber Incident FAQ page.

You can also warn your friends and reach out to the IT department at your place of employment. Cyber scams can happen to anyone at anytime. Your best defense is keeping yourself informed and aware of the many possibilities.

This content was adapted from a recent article published by The Washington Post online on December 29, 2023

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