What to Do If You’ve Been Scammed Online

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Editor's Note: This story originally appeared on FlexJobs.com.

In 2022, Americans lost $68 million to job scams. Scammers post fake jobs to either steal your money or personal information.

If you’ve been the victim of a scam, it’s important not to blame yourself. These scams can look very convincing.

For instance, maybe you were the victim of an unsolicited job offer. Did an employer reach out to you, perhaps on a reputable platform like LinkedIn, to offer you a job when you didn’t even apply for one?

While it’s possible that you could receive a legitimate job offer through LinkedIn or another social media platform, it could also potentially be a scam.

Do your research, trust your instincts, and remember, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Steps to Take If You’re Scammed Online

Stressed woman dealing with a phone scam on her smartphone
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Time is of the essence when you’ve become the victim of a job scam. Below, we share a few steps you can take to protect your money and personal data.

1. Contact, Cancel, and Change Account Information

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Any personal information exchanged with the scammer is at risk. To protect yourself, call your bank and credit card company to change your account information.

Be sure to change all of your passwords, and ask the company to put an alert on any accounts you have open.

2. Sign Up for Credit Alerts

Hands typing on a laptop keyboard
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Scammers often use your personal information to open new lines of credit in your name.

Contact the three major credit agencies, Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion, and place a fraud alert on your credit report to be notified of any unusual activity.

3. Contact the Hiring Company

Senior man working on a laptop
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Sometimes scammers use real company names to gather information. Inform the actual organization that someone is using their name in a scam.

For example, many companies ask anyone contacted by a fraudulent source offering employment to report it through a form on their website.

4. Report the Phishing Page to Google

Older worker
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You can also report a phishing page to Google. Google’s Safe Browsing team will use this information to protect users from online scammers.

Based on the team’s determination, Google may update the site status in its Transparency Report.

5. File a Complaint With the Federal Trade Commission

Suspicious woman at laptop
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The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) accepts complaints about businesses, their practices, and any issues with identity theft.

Once you file a complaint, they will investigate. In addition, the FTC urges any victims of job scams to file a complaint with their state attorney general.

6. File a Complaint With the Better Business Bureau

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Contact the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and file a complaint. They will investigate the company and make the information available to others.

You can also use the Better Business Bureau’s scam tracker to review (and report) job scams.

7. File a Complaint With the FBI

Man stressed and worried about filing taxes correctly on laptop online
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The FBI has established the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) to investigate online crimes, such as job scams.

When you file a complaint, you’ll be asked to provide your contact information, details of the scam, and information regarding any financial transactions with the scammer.

8. Contact the Job Board or Social Platform

Unhappy laptop user
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If you fell for a job scam on a popular job search site or social media platform, you can report it to the website. Many have settings that allow you to report suspicious listings or communications.

The job board usually removes any listings it finds that violate its guidelines and social media platforms will review your submission.

9. Learn the Signs to Protect Yourself From Future Scams

Man working from home
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You’ve called your bank and are carefully monitoring your credit. You’re making smart decisions to keep your personal information safe. But how do you protect yourself from job scams moving forward?

Here are a few warning signs that a job is a scam:

  • The job listing has spelling and grammatical errors.
  • The email address uses a popular domain name, like Gmail or AOL.
  • The listing uses phrases like “unlimited earning potential.”
  • The job isn’t listed on the company’s website.
  • You need to pay to get the job.

Protect Yourself and Take Your Power Back

Woman looking at laptop
Jacob Lund / Shutterstock.com

If you’ve been the victim of a job scam, know that you’re not alone. However, it’s best to act fast to protect your personal information and finances.

By following these tips, you can keep your money and personal data secure.

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