How to Spot an Online Scam and Protect Yourself from Fraud

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Online scams are becoming increasingly common, with scammers targeting unsuspecting individuals and causing billions in losses. As an online editor who regularly writes about how to avoid online scams, it can be frustrating to fall victim to one yourself. However, it’s important to remember that scammers are constantly evolving their tactics, making it difficult to spot and avoid scams entirely. In this guide, we’ll discuss 15 of the most common online scams and provide tips on how to protect yourself and what to do if you’ve been scammed.

What to Do If You Think You’ve Been Scammed Online

If you suspect that you’ve been scammed online, it’s crucial to act quickly to minimise the damage. The specific steps you should take will depend on the nature of the scam and the information you may have shared with the scammer. However, there are some general actions you can take immediately:

  1. Secure any accounts that the scammer may have access to. Change your passwords and enable two-factor authentication for added security.
  2. Freeze your credit to prevent the scammer from opening new accounts in your name. Contact the credit reporting agencies to place a freeze on your credit.
  3. Contact your bank or financial institution to report the scam. They can help you investigate any fraudulent transactions and take appropriate action.
  4. File a report with Action Fraud in the UK. This will help authorities track down the scammer and potentially recover your losses.

Next, follow these steps based on your specific situation:

If You Accidentally Paid a Scammer

  • If you paid with your credit or debit card, report the fraudulent charge to your bank and request a reversal.
  • If you paid using a gift card, contact the gift card company and inform them of the scam. Keep copies of the gift card and its receipt for reference.
  • If you sent a wire transfer through your bank, report the fraudulent transfer to your bank and follow their guidance for reversing the transaction.
  • If you used a money transfer app, contact the company responsible and report the scam. Enquire about their payment reversal policy to potentially get your money back.
  • If you paid with cryptocurrency, report the scam to the centralised exchange you used and ask if they can reverse the transaction. Keep in mind that decentralised exchanges may have limited options for reversing transactions.
  • If the scammer made an unauthorised transfer in your name, report it to your bank and ask them to block the transaction or reverse the money back to you.

If You Gave Up Personally Identifiable Information (PII)

  • If you gave up your login credentials, create a new, strong password for all your accounts. Consider enabling two-factor authentication for extra security.

If Someone Hacked Your Phone or Computer

  • If the scammer gained remote access to your computer, scan it using antivirus software to detect and remove any viruses or malware. Consider investing in a cybersecurity solution to protect your devices from future attacks.
  • If the scammer has unauthorised access to your phone, report it to your service provider to regain control. Log out of all accounts and contact your bank to block unauthorised transactions and requests.

It’s important to note that these steps may not guarantee a full recovery of your losses, but they can help mitigate the damage and protect yourself from further scams. Additionally, consider seeking support from a dedicated team of Fraud Resolution Specialists, who can assist you in recovering from fraud and provide 24/7 support.

The Latest Online Scams and What to Do If You’re a Victim

Online scammers are constantly coming up with new ways to deceive people and steal their money or personal information. Here are 15 common online scams and what you can do if you become a victim:

1. Credit or Debit Card Scams

Credit card scams involve scammers using stolen personal information to obtain a credit card without the owner’s permission. If you become a victim of a credit or debit card scam, take the following steps:

  • Contact your debit or credit card company’s fraud department and report the scam. Provide them with all the necessary information about the fraudulent transactions.
  • Keep a record of all fraudulent transactions that you want to be cleared from your credit report.
  • Close your current card and request a new credit card.
  • Change your passwords immediately to secure your online banking accounts.

2. Common Bank Scams

A common bank scam involves scammers convincing individuals to refund an overpayment through a wire transfer or other means of payment. If you fall victim to such a scam, follow these steps:

  • Notify your bank’s fraud department or wire transfer company about the fake check or overpayment scam.
  • Work with them to secure or close your account to prevent further attacks.
  • File a report with Action Fraud in the UK and provide all the necessary details about the scam.

3. Peer-to-Peer Payment App Fraud

Scammers often impersonate bank employees and trick users of peer-to-peer payment apps like Zelle, CashApp, and Venmo into giving up their financial information. If you become a victim of such fraud, take these actions:

  • Contact the peer-to-peer payment platform’s fraud department and report the scam. Keep screenshots of the transactions as evidence.
  • File a report to Action Fraud in the UK and provide a copy to the peer-to-peer app provider.

4. Cryptocurrency Fraud

Cryptocurrency scams involve fraudsters tricking individuals into participating in fake investment schemes. If you fall victim to a cryptocurrency scam, follow these steps:

  • If you used a centralised exchange, report the scam to the exchange and enquire about the possibility of reversing the transaction.
  • Understand that recovering funds from decentralised exchanges may be challenging due to the lack of centralised control.
  • Be aware that law enforcement may have limited jurisdiction over cryptocurrency transactions.

5. Account Takeovers or Device Hacks

Hackers may gain unauthorised access to your accounts or devices, potentially compromising your personal information. If you suspect an account takeover or device hack, follow these steps:

  • Contact your phone service provider and inform them of the compromise. Request an account reset to prevent further unauthorised access.
  • Keep your devices up to date with the latest security patches and consider investing in cybersecurity solutions for added protection.

6. Social Media Scams

Scammers may use social media platforms to deceive individuals and trick them into revealing personal information or making fraudulent payments. If you encounter a social media scam, take these steps:

  • Report the scammer’s account to the social media platform. Provide screenshots of your conversations with the scammer to aid in shutting down the account.
  • File an incident report with the police and seek assistance from your bank to halt any related transactions.

7. Romance Scams

Romance scams involve scammers creating fake online dating profiles to establish relationships and exploit individuals for financial gain. If you become a victim of a romance scam, follow these steps:

  • Notify the dating app or website where you encountered the scammer. Provide them with all the relevant information, including screenshots and the scammer’s profile details.
  • File a police report and share a copy with the dating app or website to aid in their investigation.

8. QR Code Scams

Scammers may tamper with QR codes to redirect individuals to phishing websites or malicious content. If you come across a QR code scam, take these actions:

  • File a police report and notify your card issuer immediately to prevent any unauthorised transactions.
  • Secure your online accounts by updating your login information and passwords.
  • Consider setting up fraud alerts or a credit freeze with the major credit bureaus to protect yourself from further scams.

9. Online Shopping Scams

Online shopping scams involve scammers setting up fake online stores or using enticing social media ads to deceive individuals. If you fall victim to an online shopping scam, follow these steps:

  • Notify the social media platform where you encountered the fraudulent ad or account.
  • Contact your bank to report the scam and seek assistance in recovering your funds.

Protecting Yourself from Online Scams

To protect yourself from online scams, it’s essential to be aware of the warning signs and take proactive measures to safeguard your personal information. Here are some tips to help you avoid falling victim to online scams:

  1. Be sceptical of unsolicited communications. Scammers often initiate contact through emails, phone calls, or text messages. Be cautious when providing personal information or making payments in response to unsolicited requests.
  2. Verify the legitimacy of websites and online sellers. Before making a purchase or sharing personal information on a website, verify its authenticity by checking for secure connections (https://) and researching the seller or company’s reputation.
  3. Be cautious with your personal information. Avoid sharing sensitive information, such as your Social Security Number or bank account details, unless you are confident in the recipient’s identity and the security of the communication channel.
  4. Use strong, unique passwords and enable two-factor authentication. Protect your accounts by using strong passwords that include a combination of letters, numbers, and special characters. Enable two-factor authentication whenever possible to add an extra layer of security.
  5. Keep your devices and software up to date. Regularly update your operating system, web browsers, and antivirus software to ensure you have the latest security patches and protections against known vulnerabilities.
  6. Monitor your financial accounts and credit reports regularly. Review your bank and credit card statements for any suspicious activity. Obtain free annual credit reports from the major credit bureaus and look for any unauthorised accounts or enquiries.
  7. Educate yourself about common scams and warning signs. Stay informed about the latest online scams and familiarise yourself with their characteristics. Be cautious of any offers that seem too good to be true or involve high-pressure tactics.
  8. Trust your instincts. If something feels off or doesn’t seem right, trust your gut instinct and proceed with caution. If in doubt, take the time to research, ask for advice from trusted sources, or seek professional guidance.

By following these tips and staying vigilant, you can reduce the risk of falling victim to online scams and protect yourself from financial loss and identity theft.


Online scams are a prevalent threat, and scammers are constantly evolving their tactics to deceive and defraud unsuspecting individuals. While it’s impossible to completely eliminate the risk of online scams, you can take proactive steps to protect yourself and minimise the potential damage. By being aware of the warning signs, staying informed about the latest scams, and taking immediate action if you suspect you’ve been scammed, you can safeguard your personal information and financial well-being. Remember to always trust your instincts and seek professional assistance if needed. Stay vigilant and stay safe online.

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