Even with adequate protection, it can still happen to the best of us. Fraudsters have become exceptionally clever with their scams. They will call, email, SMS, or use social media to contact us in the hopes of obtaining personal or financial information. So, what should you do if you believe you may have made a payment or provided personal information to a scammer?

There are so many ways in which someone can be scammed. There’s the age-old phishing scam that can help the scammer obtain account information or financial credentials, there are phone calls or SMS messages that seemingly come from a trusted source, such as your bank, there are fake job listings that require a payment for “training”, and there are even scams on your local classified sites.

If you have made a payment to someone you suspect could be a scammer, contact the bank that issued the debit or credit card that was used to make the payment. Tell them it was a fraudulent charge and ask if the money can be transferred back into your account. This can also be done if the scammer has your financial information and tries to make fraudulent transfers or payments out of your account. You will also need to check your Credit Bureau Profile to ensure that no loans or additional accounts have been set up in your name.

If your identity document or drivers’ license has been lost or stolen and you believe you may have had your identity stolen, you will need to immediately report this to the South African Police Service and request an affidavit, which will be needed to inform your bank and/or credit providers to prevent any fraudulent charges being made on your accounts. If you have lost possession of either of these documents and start noticing suspicious activity using your personal information, you can report it to the South African Fraud Prevention Services (SAFPS) on 0860 101 248.

If you have had an interaction with someone you suspect to be a scammer and you have provided them with your username and password for an account, immediately change your password for that account and any other accounts that may use the same password. Ensure that you create a long and unique password that doesn’t contain any personal information that you may have given out.

When dealing with scams on a classifieds site, always use your instinct. If something looks too good to be true, it probably is. If you have paid for a product and did not receive it, report the transaction to your bank and ask them to return your money. Report the incident to the classifieds site immediately, using screenshots of the listing and providing as much information about the ad as possible. If you haven’t fallen victim to a scam, but suspect that someone was attempting to scam you, report the ad to the classifieds site, as they can investigate and prevent that person from scamming others. Reporting a crime doesn’t always result in you getting your money back, but it can ensure that others don’t fall victim to the same crime, in turn, making the site safer.

Despite the increasing safety of online transactions, there will always be people continuously looking to exploit you. Don’t let that happen by learning to spot and avoid scams. Report any suspicious activity you find online to help authorities track down and prevent scammers from taking advantage of people.