Scamming is, unfortunately, a real business that too many people are just too good at. Scamming isn’t a new thing either. Cyber-scams have existed as long as the internet has, and before that, we had mailing scams.
Humankind has always found ways to lie, cheat, and steal from others. Thankfully there are laws that protect people, whether they be skeptics that made a bad call or gullible people who routinely get taken for rides.
Have you found yourself caught in a scam lately? Here are five ways to get back at the people dumb enough to try and take advantage of you.
1. Take it to the Bank
Pretty much every bank now has ways to dispute any charges on your card that may be fraudulent. Whether you gave the scammers your card information willingly or you were the victim of a security breach, your bank should give you a call if they sense anything fishy going on with your card.
If they never call, be sure to check your bank account info frequently so you can catch it if they don’t. Make sure to never voluntarily give out your card information to people you don’t know or anyone who isn’t a guaranteed service, like Amazon, PayPal, or iTunes.
No matter how they got your info, what they are doing is fraud and it is a crime that they can be charged with. If you suspect that you’ve been a victim of fraud, you can file a complaint online with the Better Business Bureau, or at www.fraud.org.
2. Take it to the FTC
The FTC (Federal Trade Commission) is an organization dedicated to protecting consumers. They instantly jump into action at the first whiff of a phishing, fake prize, identity theft, or work-from-home scam. The only thing they can’t do is get your pesky old friends from high school to stop trying to sell you Mary Kay over Facebook.
Congress passed a law way back in 2003 that aimed to combat spam emails right at their hearts, and they’ve been pretty successful. If you get a weird or shady looking email, dump it in your spam folder and leave it there. If they persist in harassing you, you can file complaints with the FTC.
3. Take it to a Lawyer
Lawyers are here to protect us. It might not seem like it at times, but in the event that you need one, one will certainly be there for you. A lot of lawyers offer free case evaluations when it comes to cyber-crimes.
If they decide to pursue a case against the guilty party, you’ll be able to watch the swift hand of justice work its magic. If not, they can tell you why you don’t have a real case and what to watch out for if it gets worse.
4. Take it to the Website/Moderator
If you find yourself on the receiving end of a catfish-type scam there are a few things that you can do. Social media sites like Facebook and Instagram have rules in place for this kind of thing in order to protect your identity. They’ll take a look at the fake profile and pull it down immediately if they sense that it’s a duplicate or a profile meant to cyberbully.
On forum-style websites like Reddit or 4Chan, you can reach out to the moderators of the thread you’re on and report bullying or a hijacked account and they’ll hopefully (we can’t make any promises about 4Chan) step in and put a stop to it.
More and more states have begun enacting cyberbullying laws due to the rash of controversies and public backlash that they’ve faced. Social media gives people this false courage that makes it so much easier to say mean things and bully. If you’re being cyberbullied, please report it. Even though it’s not a bona-fide crime in all states, it’s still a serious issue that should be taken seriously.
5. Take it into Your Own Hands
Sometimes the law doesn’t work as fast as you’d like it to work. Sometimes the law has blind spots and loopholes and escape routes for criminals. Sometimes people just slip through the cracks.
Sometimes you’re bored and want to have a little fun.
If you sense that you’re being scammed in some way over the internet you have the power. They gave the power to you when you were targeted and as long as you can tell it’s a scam and you haven’t given them any private or important information the ball’s in your court. There’s nothing wrong with taking a would-be scammer for a ride.
Look, we’re not endorsing vigilante justice here, but we do really like Batman. He’s a pretty cool dude.
Here are a few quick tips for protecting yourself out there in the dark and lonely recesses of the great Internet:
- Do NOT give out your credit card information to anyone. EVER. It doesn’t matter how important that Nigerian Prince is. He doesn’t need your credit card info.
- Do NOT give out your password to anyone you don’t know. It’s okay to give it out to your cheapo relatives who want to leech off your Netflix account, but anyone else is a no go.
- If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. We’re 200% sure that you didn’t win an iPad for visiting that poorly-made, flashy website, just like we’re 200% sure that there are no hot single Russian women in your area desperately looking for you.
- Do NOT meet anyone you don’t know off the internet. If you’re selling something on Craigslist make sure to meet them in a brightly lit, public area and always bring someone with you. We’ve seen as many bad Lifetime movies as you. We know how it works.
- When in doubt, report it. It’s better to be safe than sorry.