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Every week, join Sydney Waters as she helps you navigate life as a smart consumer. You'll cover everything in avoiding the latest scams, including phishing emails, medical equipment fraud, understanding layaway, hiring a reputable tax preparer, and even digital spring cleaning. Add to your toolbox and flip through your Consumer Handbook Thursdays during NPR’s Morning Edition at 6:42 a.m. and 8:42 a.m., only on KRCU.

Consumer Handbook: How to Recover from a Scam

Stressed upset woman holding bank card and being surprised
RainStar/Getty Images
Stressed upset woman holding bank card and being surprised

Figuring out what to do in the aftermath of a scam can be incredibly stressful. Better Business Bureau® (BBB®)'s new Scam Survival Toolkit can help guide survivors of scams through the recovery process.

Scams affect people of all walks of life. BBB often shares tips on how to avoid scams, but you might still be at risk right after a scam happens.

The truth is that scams don’t just hurt financially – they also impact people emotionally. Survivors of scams are often dealing with feelings of shame, guilt or anger, even though it’s not their fault they were wronged.

The top priority after a scam happens is to protect yourself from further damage. Everyone's situation is different, but the following steps can start you on the path to securing your money, credit or identity.

How to recover from a scam:
Secure your finances. If you’ve lost money or financial information to a scammer, contact your financial institutions. They may be able to start a fraud investigation or reverse the transactions. If credit card information has been compromised, they can cancel your card and send you a new one.

Protect your credit. If you’ve lost personal information or credit card information, it could be used to steal your identity – so put a fraud alert on your credit reports or freeze your credit. Consider getting a free credit report to monitor your credit for any suspicious activity.

Change your password. If a specific account has been hacked, report it to the company and change your password. Follow BBB’s guidelines for creating a strong password, and consider turning on multifactor authentication to protect your account. Monitor your other accounts for suspicious activity.

Look out for recovery scams. Some scammers strike in the aftermath of fraud, offering phony credit repair services or tech support services that steal money or information from people who are already vulnerable.

Talk about it. Scams can happen to anyone, but people often report to BBB that they feel alone in the aftermath of a scam. Ask a friend or family member for support. If you’d like, you can read testimonials from other survivors of scams or share your story with BBB anonymously.

Report the scam. Once you’ve taken steps to protect yourself, report the scam to BBB Scam Tracker so you can help protect others. 36.6% of people who visited BBB Scam Tracker last year said it helped them avoid a scam.

Sydney Waters is the new Regional Director of Better Business Bureau in Cape Girardeau and responsible for outreach efforts in Southern Illinois and Eastern and Southwest Missouri.