Advice to Possible Scam Victims
The ACCC considers that the following advice should be given to online dating site users concerned that they have fallen victim to a scam:
1: Cease communication
If you think you have been scammed, the first step is to immediately cease communication with the scammer, to avoid losing more money or giving away more personal information. Ignore any attempts by the scammer to communicate with you and take steps to block future communications, e.g. set up rules in your email and social media accounts and on your mobile phone. Better still, change your mobile phone number, email address and social media accounts.
2: Contact site operator
You should report the scammer to the dating site where you first had contact with them, as they may be targeting other users. Details of your report will be kept confidential. You should provide the site operator with as much information about the scammer as possible. This may include examples of emails or instant messaging communications received from the scammer and photos, names and addresses, email addresses or phone numbers used by the scammer.
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3: Contact your financial institution
If you have sent money to the scammer and particularly if you have provided any personal or financial details, you should contact your financial institution and inform them. If you have given the scammer information such as account numbers, credit card numbers or passwords you should immediately change them. If you used a service, such as a money transfer service or bank to send money to the scammer you should contact the service provider so that they can stop others from sending money to the scammer.
4: Report the scam to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC)
Reporting a scam to the ACCC assists with monitoring scam trends. You can report a scam to the ACCC via the online reporting form on the ACCC’s Scamwatch website. The details of complaints made to the ACCC will be kept confidential.
5: Contact police
If you have sent money to the scammer, you should report the matter to the police via the Australian Cybercrime Online Reporting Network (ACORN). If someone attempts to blackmail you, or makes threats of any kind, you should contact the police immediately.
6: Beware of future contact
Scammers will often contact you under new guises to try and get more money from you. They may pretend to be lawyers, government officials or police, often from another country, and claim that they have caught the scammer and need money to recover your losses. You should never send money—the scammers are simply trying to get more out of you.
7: Take steps to protect your personal data
Scammers collect information about you during a scam and may use this information for other fraudulent activity. Take some time to review what information the scammer might have about you and take steps to change this information. Information such as passport numbers, bank account details and driver’s licence numbers are particularly valuable to scammers. Consider changing your phone number and email address. Also review your social media profile and consider changing or amending your Facebook, Twitter, Skype, Linkedin, Pinterest or other accounts. Ensure your privacy settings are set at the highest level and your accounts are accessible to only those people you know and trust.