What to do, if you think you have been scammed!

What to do, if...

Emergency Information: What to do if you think you have been scammed!

Phishing attacks are becoming more sophisticated every day, so don't blame yourself.  It is more important to act quickly to protect your information and identity. If you believe you have been tricked this way, assume that you will become a victim of credit card fraud, bank fraud, or identity theft. Below is some advice on what to do if you are in this situation in the United States:

If you have given out your credit or debit or ATM card information

  • Report the theft of this information to the card issuer as quickly as possible
    • Many companies have toll-free numbers and 24-hour service to deal with such emergencies.
  • Cancel your account and open a new one
  • Review your billing statements carefully after the loss
    • If they show any unauthorized charges, it's best to send a letter to the card issuer describing each questionable charge.
  • Credit Card Loss or Fraudulent Charges (FCBA).
    • Your maximum liability under federal law for unauthorized use of your credit card is $50.
    • If the loss involves your credit card number, but not the card itself, you have no liability for unauthorized use
  • ATM or Debit Card Loss or Fraudulent Transfers (EFTA).
    • Your liability under federal law for unauthorized use of your ATM or debit card depends on how quickly you report the loss.
    • You risk unlimited loss if you fail to report an unauthorized transfer within 60 days after your bank statement containing unauthorized use is mailed to you

If you have given out your bank account information

  • Report the theft of this information to the bank as quickly as possible
  • Cancel your account and open a new on

If you have given out your eBay account

If someone else is using your account to bid, leave feedback, or list auctions without your permission:

  • Contact eBay
    • eBay has set up a link for HIJACKED ACCOUNTS
    • If someone is currently listing auctions on your account, you may also use the hotline options:
      • Member Problems... Law Enforcement... Please Investigate a Current Listing for Possible Fraudulent Activity
      • Please only use this option if there are current fraudulent auctions.
  • Attempt to sign in and change your password
    • If you are able to sign in, change your password and hint immediately, and begin to undo any damage done by the hackers
      • remove any bogus auctions, contact bidders and sellers, etc.
    • If you were unable to regain control of your own account, eBay will likely suspend it for a while until they complete their investigation.

If you have downloaded a virus or Trojan

Some phishing attacks use viruses and/or Trojans to install programs called "key loggers" on your computer. These programs capture and send out any information that you type to the phisher, including credit card numbers, usernames and passwords, Social Security Numbers, etc. In this case, you should:

  • Install and/or update anti-virus and personal firewall software
  • Update all virus definitions and run a full scan
  • Confirm every connection your firewall allows
  • If your system appears to have been compromised, fix it and then change your password again, since you may well have transmitted the new one to the hacker
  • Check your other accounts! The hackers may have helped themselves to many different accounts:
    • Check your eBay account, PayPal, your email ISP, online bank accounts, online trading accounts, Amazon.com and other e-commerce accounts, and everything else for which you use online password

If you have given out your personal identification information

Identity theft occurs when someone uses your personal information such as your name, Social Security number, credit card number or other identifying information, without your permission to commit fraud or other crimes. If you have given out this kind of information to a phisher, you should do the following:

  • Report the theft to the three major credit reporting agencies, Experian, Equifax and TransUnion Corporation, and do the following:
    • Request that they place a fraud alert and a victim's statement in your file.
    • Request a FREE copy of your credit report to check whether any accounts were opened without your consent.
    • Request that the agencies remove inquiries and/or fraudulent accounts stemming from the theft.
  • Major Credit Bureaus
    • Equifax 
      • To order your report, call: 800-685-1111 or write: P.O. Box 740241, Atlanta, GA 30374-0241
      • To report fraud, call: 800-525-6285 and write: P.O. Box 740241, Atlanta, GA 30374-0241
      • Hearing impaired call 1-800-255-0056 and ask the operator to call the Auto Disclosure Line at 1-800-685-1111 to request a copy of your report.
    • Experian
      • To order your report, call: 888-EXPERIAN (397-3742) or write: P.O. Box 2002, Allen TX 75013
      • To report fraud, call: 888-EXPERIAN (397-3742) and write: P.O. Box 9530, Allen TX 75013 TDD: 1-800-972-0322
    • Trans Union
      • To order your report, call: 800-888-4213 or write: P.O. Box 1000, Chester, PA 19022
      • To report fraud, call: 800-680-7289 and write: Fraud Victim Assistance Division, P.O. Box 6790, Fullerton, CA 92634 TDD: 1-877-553-7803
  • Notify your bank(s) and ask them to flag your account and contact you regarding any unusual activity:
    • If bank accounts were set up without your consent, close them.
    • If your ATM card was stolen, get a new card, account number and PIN.
  • Contact your local police department to file a criminal report.
  • Contact the Social Security Administration's Fraud Hotline to report the unauthorized use of your personal identification information.
  • Notify the Department of Motor Vehicles of your identity theft.
    • Check to see whether an unauthorized license number has been issued in your name.
  • Notify the passport office to be watch out for anyone ordering a passport in your name. File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission.
    • Ask for a free copy of "ID Theft: When Bad Things Happen in Your Good Name", a guide that will help you guard against and recover from your theft.
  • File a complaint with the Internet Fraud Complaint Center (IFCC)
    • The Internet Fraud Complaint Center (IFCC) is a partnership between the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the National White Collar Crime Center (NW3C), with a mission to address fraud committed over the Internet.
    • For victims of Internet fraud, IFCC provides a convenient and easy-to-use reporting mechanism that alerts authorities of a suspected criminal or civil violation.
  • Document the names and phone numbers of everyone you speak to regarding the incident. Follow-up your phone calls with letters. Keep copies of all correspondence.

For More Information

  • Check out the list of recent phishing attacks and the information about Phishing Pop-ups!
  • Job seekers should also be careful. Some phishers target people who list themselves on job search sites. Pretending to be potential employers, they ask for your social security number and other personal information. Follow the advice above and verify the person's identity before providing any personal information.
  • Be suspicious if someone contacts you unexpectedly and asks for your personal information. It's hard to tell whether something is legitimate by looking at an email or a Web site, or talking to someone on the phone. But if you're contacted out of the blue and asked for your personal information, it's a warning sign that something is "phishy." Legitimate companies and agencies don't operate that way.
  • Act immediately if you've been hooked by a phisher. If you provided account numbers, PINs, or passwords to a phisher, notify the companies with whom you have the accounts right away. For information about how to put a "fraud alert" on your files at the credit reporting bureaus and other advice for ID theft victims, contact the Federal Trade Commission's ID Theft Clearinghouse or toll-free, 877-438-4338. The TDD number is 202-326-2502.
  • Even if you didn't get hooked, report phishing. Tell the company or agency that the phisher was impersonating. You can also report the problem to law enforcement agencies through the National Fraud Information Center/Internet Fraud Watch, www.fraud.org or 800-876-7060, TDD 202-835-0778. The information you provide helps to stop identity theft.   
  •  For more information about how to protect yourself, see Fact Sheet 17a Identity Theft: What to do if It Happens to You.
  • Read the information and tips put out by the Federal Trade Commission about phishing.
  • Read the Department of Justice's recent whitepaper "Special Report on Phishing".

 Reporting a Possible Phishing Attack

If you need advice about an Internet or online solicitation, or you want to report a possible scam, use the Online Reporting Form or call the NFIC hotline at 1-800-876-7060


For Even More Information About Phishing, See:

And please let us know about any suspicious calls or emails you receive.  We look for patterns so that we can alert the authorities and victims to new scams, before it is too late!




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