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What To Do If You’ve Unwittingly Paid a Scammer
August 18, 2021
Every day, in spite of their best intentions, people get taken in by scammers. A moment of inattention or an utterly convincing story, and you’re suddenly on the hook for real money. Worse, scammers are good at convincing you to pay in ways that give them fast access to your funds, and make it hard to get your money back.
But, according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the situation is not always hopeless. Here are some options you might try. With any of them, the sooner you act, the better.
Credit or debit card
This is your ‘best case scenario,’ since many credit card companies will reimburse you for suspected fraud. Contact your credit card company or bank immediately, tell them what happened, and ask for a ‘chargeback’ to reverse the charges.
Gift card, prepaid card, or cash reload card
Contact the company that issued the card and tell them you paid a scammer with the card. Ask if they can refund your money. If the scammer hasn’t already used the card, you may get lucky, so the sooner you contact them, the better your chances.
If you wired money through a company such as Western Union or MoneyGram, contact the company immediately to report the fraud and file a complaint. You can call MoneyGram’s complaint department at 1-800-MONEYGRAM (800.666.3947), and Western Union’s at 800.325.6000. Although it’s unlikely to happen, you should ask for the wire transfer to be reversed.
Money transfer app
Online peer-to-peer (P2P) payment systems such as Venmo, PayPal and WePay are convenient – and instantaneous. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to get your money back. Contact the company behind the app, but if the app is linked to a credit card or debit card, contact your credit card company or bank first.
If you were taken in by a tech support scam and gave the scammer remote access to your computer, you should immediately update your computer’s security software. Then run a scan and delete anything it identifies as a problem.