I’ve been swindled, now what do I do?

Security Awareness
14 June 2024

Steps to take in case you fall victim to online scams.

“I’ve been swindled,” is the phrase none of us would ever want to think of uttering. Yet we know that the risk of falling victim to online scams is becoming higher and higher, and that this is something that, as much as it scares us, we need to put into account, to be prepared in case it happens.

Risk, we know well, is always around the corner.
A link on a fake commercial site where we thought we were buying an interesting and convenient product or service; a fake e-mail that lured us into a very well constructed trap to extort our data, perhaps banking data; a WhatsApp message or text message that suggested a fake link for us to follow to solve an urgent problem.
Many examples could be given.
But the gist is still the same: the risks of falling into the highly refined traps of cybercriminals are multiplying at a rate that often exceeds our ability to recognize and neutralize them. Social engineering and increasingly cunning artificial intelligence techniques are also to blame.

Thus, those who have not yet fallen victim to an online scam still run a serious risk of becoming one. A statement that may sound like a curse, or an extremely pessimistic view. But statistics tell us that it is simply reality. And with this, like it or not, you always have to deal.

It is therefore imperative today to know what to do and how to move should we fall victim to online scams.

What should I do if I have been scammed

First of all, it is important to maintain control, stay clear-headed, and disconnect from all online activities.
Disconnect compromised devices, whether computers or phones, or perhaps both, from the network. Even if you think your login information has not been compromised, it is also recommended to change your passwords and, of course, to use new, more effective ones.

If the possible scam is related to banking data, it is important to check your movements perhaps by physically going to your institution’s office to avoid doing other online transactions.

Once these initial defense and control operations have been carried out, immediately and quickly, the next step is reporting to the appropriate authorities.

Online scams, who to turn to

The first place to turn to is the Postal Police, who deal specifically with computer crimes and can undertake the necessary investigations to thwart this kind of activity, uncover the wrongdoers and take action against them.

How to report to the Postal Police?

One can go in person to the nearest Postal Police office, or report and denounce online through the appropriate forms that must be carefully filled out without forgetting all the details, even those that seem insignificant to us.

There is a special service for reporting online scam to the Postal Police called “vi@ Web complaint.” It must be said that, at the time of writing, this is not available and appears to be suspended with no indication of a resumption date for service. Therefore, to be sure that the report is successful, it is advisable to go to the Postal Police Office in person anyway.

As for simple reporting, however, these are possible.
To make them, one must log on to the official website of the Postal Police and select the“Report Online” option on the left side menu. Then enter the required data in the appropriate field on the page that opens.

Following data entry, one can select the type of scam one intends to report by going to the “topic” item on the drop-down menu, where one can choose between Defacement, Phishing or Social network, always indicating the URL of the site or social network being reported.

But there is more than just the Postal Police, when criminals act through social platforms such as Facebook or search engines such as Google, reporting of the online scam can be done on the platforms themselves, which have over time equipped themselves with dedicated procedures to disseminate information and prevent fraudulent content from reaching other users.

Regarding Facebook , you can directly report the profile or page that you suspect to be fraudulent via the report button on each profile or page.
On the other hand, if it is the messages that are suspicious, you can use the “message reporting” option directly from the conversation.
In any case, Facebook provides a help center where additional resources and instructions are available to manage and report security issues.

On the other hand, if you find that Google is indexing suspicious sites, you can use the Google’s reporting form for websites. Instead, when the scammer comes to us with an e-mail posing as Google, we can forward the phishing e-mail to the specific Google phishing reporting address.

In addition to these options, to report online scams one can turn to associations that aim to protect the rights of consumers and provide them with the right assistance. Or to a trusted lawyer perhaps specializing in the subject of computer crimes.

In any case, it is important to describe what happened in as much detail as possible, reconstructing the complete chronology of what happened and providing copies of the various communications.
Reporting an incident is not only a way to protect yourself or perhaps to be compensated if you have been the victim of a cybercrime, but it is also a civic responsibility to help increase collective security in the digital environment.

This is all the more true following the passage in the House of the new “Provisions on Strengthening National Cybersecurity and Cybercrimes” bill, which has toughened penalties for online crimes and certainly makes life more difficult for criminals.

In conclusion, it can be said that the best defense against cyber-attacks always remains being careful and aware of our every action online. This is a goal that, given the high levels of refinement achieved by cybercriminals today, can only be achieved through specific training courses that are always up-to-date and involve continuous training.

In case we do happen to be scammed, however, it is always important to report and report.
An attitude that, along with increased penalties, can be an effective deterrent to anyone thinking of getting rich through online scams.


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