We’ve talked about ways to spot a loan scam, but if it’s too late to prevent being scammed and you’re already a victim, it’s crucial that you take the right steps to report the crime.
1. Construct a narrative. Start by writing down your story. Include everything you can remember, but try to keep it concise. Talk about how the scammer first approached you and every step you took during the process. You’ll be repeating this story to different agencies, so it’s important to write it out so it is consistent and complete. The process of reconstructing the events of the scam will help you remember all the relevant details.
2. Report the crime to the FTC. The first agency to file a complaint with is the FTC. Visit their complaint site at https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/. The site has comprehensive instructions for filing a complaint, and you will be guided through the process there.
3. File a complaint with the IC3 (Internet Crime Complaint Center). This resource is run by the FBI and the National White Collar Crime Center. They will process your complaint and refer it to the appropriate law enforcement agency for investigation. (http://www.ic3.gov/complaint/default.aspx)
4. Call the Police. The police in the district where the crime was committed may be able to help you, but if the scammer used a fake address, the police may not be much help. You may report the crime to the police in the area where you live, but again, if the scammer was clever, the police won’t be able to track them down. Still, in cases like this where there is a financial dispute, it helps to have a police report on file (try to get a copy of the police report or report number for your records.)
5. Write your credit bureaus. The scam will likely extend beyond your finances and into your credit. The scammers will probably have your social security number and identifying information, so you need to file fraud alerts to prevent identity theft. When you file the fraud complaint, you should receive free credit reports from the bureaus; look these over for accounts that are fraudulent and dispute them. (Download our “Consumer Guide To Good Credit” for more information on filing disputes.)
a. Credit bureaus:
- TransUnion (www.transunion.com)
- Experian (www.experian.com)
- Equifax (www.equifax.com)
If you’re the victim of a scam and you feel overwhelmed, remember we’re always available and our expert counselors will be able to help you. If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment right here on the blog or on our Facebook page.