What to Do If You Are Scammed

Identity Theft: What to do if you've given your personal information to a scammer

Everyone makes a mistake once in a while, so let's assume you fell for one of the scammer's cons, and gave him your social security number, a fax of your passport, a credit card number, etc. What do you do now to prevent further damage, such as identity theft?

Click here if you have sent money to a scammer or are corresponding with a scammer about a lottery, sweepstakes, loan, money transfer, cashiers check or inheritance.

What should I do if I think my identity has been stolen or compromised?

If you think your identity may have been stolen, here's what to do now. Keep a log of all conversations including date, name, phone number, and the information provided:

  1. DO NOT COMMUNICATE WITH THE SCAMMERS! They are dangerous criminals. You can be physically injured and even killed by fraud criminals. Do not travel to meet them or "claim your winnings". Some people who traveled to Nigeria and South Africa been beaten, kidnapped, or murdered.

  2. Contact your bank - If you think you're a victim of identity theft or account fraud, you should call your bank, tell them what happened and ask them to monitor for unusual activity and advice whether you should close the account and open a new checking or savings account.

  3. Contact the fraud departments of each of the three major credit bureaus  (outside of the US may have different agencies) to place a fraud alert on your credit file. The fraud alert requests creditors to contact you before opening any new accounts or making any changes to your existing accounts.
    Also provide a copy of your driver's license to each agency's fraud unit in order to register an affidavit.
    Contact them in writing, via certified receipt request at the post office.
    Click on the blue link or call their phone number:

  4. File a police report. Get a copy of the report to submit to your creditors and others that may require proof of the crime. Keep a log of all conversations including date, name, phone number, and the information provided.

  5. Obtain new identity documents - If you sent your passport number or faxed a copy of it to the scammers, or done the same with your driver's license or other government documents, obtain a new document - be sure to explain what happened, so they cancel your old one and give you a new number. Call the Social Security Administration and all creditors with whom you have accounts to let them know you have been the victim of identity theft.

  6. If you have seen unauthorized charges: Close the accounts that you know or believe have been tampered with or opened fraudulently.

  7. File your complaint with the FTC. Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Click on the link at left or call the FTC's identity theft hotline toll-free at 1 (877) IDTHEFT or (877)-438-4338. The hotline is staffed by counselors trained to help victims and take their complaints. The FTC maintains a database of identity theft cases used by law enforcement agencies for investigations. Filing a complaint also helps us learn more about identity theft and the problems victims are having so that we can better assist you.

  8. File a Financial Loss complaint form online with the Internet Crime Complaint Center, which is a partnership between the National White Collar Crime Center and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

  9. Complete the FTC identity theft affidavit, which will assist you in reporting to many companies that a new account has been open in your name. Use the ID Theft Affidavit when disputing new unauthorized accounts.
  10. Contact your state attorney general! to alert them to the scam or fraud activity.

  11. For more in-depth information on recovering from identity theft and help with specific problems, read ID Theft: When Bad Things Happen to Your Good Name.

  12. Stay current with new scams as the emerge, so you don't have this happen again

More information:



For a comprehensive list of national and international agencies to report scams, see this page.