How do I report a scammer?

What is a scam?

A scam is a fraudulent scheme used by criminals to trick and cheat people out of money. Scammers use clever schemes to defraud unsuspecting victims. Some common types of scams include:

  • Phishing scams – Fake emails or websites pretending to be from legitimate companies in order to steal personal information.
  • Advance fee scams – Asking for money upfront before receiving goods, services, or other promised prizes or rewards.
  • Romance scams – Developing a relationship/friendship online, gaining trust, and then asking for money.
  • Tech support scams – Callers pretending to be from tech companies claiming your device has a problem and asking for remote access or payment to fix it.
  • Grandparent scam – A caller pretends to be a grandchild in an emergency who needs money.
  • IRS/tax scams – Callers threatening arrest for tax evasion unless immediate payment is made.
  • Sweepstakes/lottery scams – Telling you you’ve won money in a competition you didn’t enter and requiring upfront fees to claim it.
  • TV/radio scams – Shady advertising on TV/radio making false claims to sell products.
  • Recovery scams – Companies claiming they can recover lost funds from a previous scam for an upfront fee.

Scammers are constantly coming up with new schemes to try to steal money. If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Why should I report scams?

If you’ve been targeted by a scammer, reporting them is important for several reasons:

  • Prevent others from falling victim – Your report helps warn others about current scams circulating.
  • Aid law enforcement – Reporting provides authorities evidence to build cases and prosecute scammers.
  • Disrupt scammers’ operations – The more reports, the harder it becomes for scammers to continue deceiving people.
  • Report losses – Certain reports allow you to list financial losses which may help pursue restitution.
  • Gather information – Reports provide vital information on new trends and schemes to inform prevention efforts.
  • Potential recovery – In some cases, reporting a scam quickly can increase chances of recovering lost money.

The more people who report scams, the more difficult it becomes for crooks to keep taking advantage of innocent people. Reporting takes time but can save others the pain and financial losses you experienced.

Where can I report a scam?

If you’ve been targeted by a scam, report it immediately to all relevant authorities and organizations which can take action:

Federal Trade Commission (FTC)

The FTC is the main anti-scam and consumer protection authority at the federal level.

  • File a complaint through the FTC Complaint Assistant or call 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357).
  • The FTC cannot resolve individual complaints but can provide information on next steps.
  • Your complaint helps the FTC investigate scams and build cases against culprits.

State Attorney General

Your state attorney general’s office prosecutes scams violating state laws.

  • Look up your state AG office online to file a complaint or call their hotline.
  • AG offices can investigate or sue scammers on your behalf if laws were broken.

State Consumer Protection Office

Your state government likely has a dedicated consumer protection office or department.

  • Find your state’s office online to file a complaint or call their hotline.
  • They can investigate illegal scams and predatory business practices in your state.

Better Business Bureau (BBB)

The BBB allows you to file scam reports and submit reviews warning others.

  • File a scam report on or call your local BBB office.
  • Your complaint helps document scams and risky businesses.

AARP Fraud Watch Network

AARP receives scam reports specifically targeting seniors.

  • File a report online or call the Fraud Watch helpline at 1-877-908-3360.
  • Your report helps warn other seniors and informs AARP education efforts.

FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3)

The FBI IC3 receives internet-facilitated scam reports.

  • File an online complaint at
  • Your information assists the FBI and law enforcement in combatting cybercrime.

U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)

The SEC handles scams involving securities fraud and investment scams.

  • Submit a complaint to the SEC online or call 1-800-732-0330.
  • This helps the SEC prosecute companies and individuals for violations.

U.S. Postal Inspection Service

The USPIS investigates scams attempting to use the U.S. mail system.

  • File an online complaint or contact your nearest postal inspection office.
  • Your report will help identify and stop postal scams and mail fraud.

State/Local Law Enforcement

Local police can often pursue criminal investigations for scams in their jurisdiction.

  • File a report at your local police department or call the non-emergency number.
  • Police reports help build cases, especially if the scammer is in your area.

Banks/Financial Institutions

Your bank may be able to help recover funds if scammed through your account.

  • Notify your bank immediately if scammed/defrauded using their accounts.
  • Early intervention, before money disappears, improves recovery chances.

Phone Provider

Phone companies can block numbers used for spam/scam calls.

  • Report nuisance or scam calls/texts to your phone provider.
  • They can block reported numbers from contacting their customers.

What information should I have ready to report a scam?

Reporting scams takes less time if you have key details ready to provide. Have the following information available when filing your report:

  • Your full name, contact details, and location.
  • Type of scam and details of the scheme/pitch.
  • Date(s) and time(s) you were targeted or scammed.
  • How you were initially contacted – phone, email, mail, online ad, in person?
  • Scammer’s name(s), business names(s), phone number(s), website(s) and addresses.
  • Information on the scammer’s location if known – city, state, country.
  • Amount of any financial losses from the scam.
  • Payment methods and accounts scammed funds were sent from, if applicable.
  • Any account information used or requested by the scammer – bank, credit card, retirement, etc.
  • Other personal information provided to the scammer – Social Security, driver’s license, etc.
  • Records of any correspondence – emails, letters, screenshots, notes, etc.
  • Information on other individuals or businesses assisting the scammer.
  • Any other evidence related to the scam – mailing envelopes, transactions records, etc.

Having these details ready allows you to give authorities a clear and complete picture to assist their investigations.

What steps should I take after reporting a scam?

After reporting a scam, continue taking proactive steps to protect yourself and aid investigators:

  • Report the scam to all applicable agencies – The more reports, the better.
  • Warn friends and family about new scams targeting you – They may also be at risk.
  • Monitor accounts compromised by scammers – Watch for any suspicious charges or activity.
  • Change any passwords provided to scammers – Secure accounts they may have accessed.
  • Place fraud alerts and credit freezes if info was compromised – This restricts access to your accounts.
  • Close any accounts which were misused or compromised – Open new safe accounts with new providers.
  • Return any checks, money orders or Wired funds – Try to stop fraudulent payments.
  • Keep detailed records – Save evidence, correspondence and transaction records.
  • Dispute unauthorized charges – Notify providers of any fraudulent charges or withdrawals.
  • Carefully screen future contacts – Ask for call backs and verify identities before sharing info.
  • Share updates with agencies – Provide any new evidence or developments.

Additionally, be vigilant against recovery or advance fee scams. Real investigators will never ask you to pay fees upfront to recover lost money. Avoid any further solicitations demanding payments.

Can I recover money lost in a scam?

It is difficult, but sometimes possible, to get money back after being scammed:

  • Act immediately – The sooner you report fraud, the better chance funds can be frozen or transactions reversed.
  • Notify your bank – Banks may reverse transfers if reported fast. But delays can make funds irretrievable.
  • Credit card disputes – You can dispute unauthorized charges if promptly reported within time limits.
  • Wire recall – Wires may potentially be reversed if the receiving account is valid and funds remain there.
  • Gift card refunds – Merchants may refund gift cards if unused by scammers. Provide documentation.
  • Government recovery – Authorities can sometimes seize assets and accounts from prosecuted scammers.
  • Civil lawsuit – You can sue scammers to obtain a judgment demanding repayment, but collecting is difficult.

Unfortunately, recovery options are limited, especially for untraceable methods like gift cards, cryptocurrency or overseas transfers. Prevention is key to avoid losses.

How can I protect myself from scams?

While scammers are always inventing new schemes, these precautions can help protect you:

  • Never send money to someone you don’t know and trust, even if they promise returns.
  • Don’t click links or call numbers in unexpected emails/texts – independently look up official websites.
  • Never share sensitive personal information unless you confirm who is asking.
  • Reject offers that are too good to be true or request fees upfront.
  • Beware pressuring requests demanding immediate payment/action.
  • Verify any claims of wired money by directly calling a supposed sender.
  • Don’t trust caller ID displaying government agencies or businesses – scammers spoof numbers.
  • Screen calls and don’t answer from unknown numbers. Let them leave a message.
  • If someone calls claiming to be a relative/friend in need of money, hang up and call them directly.
  • Install anti-virus software on computers/mobile devices and keep it up-to-date.

Also review your credit reports regularly for any suspicious activity. Consider placing a credit freeze with each major credit bureau to restrict access. Be vigilant and always use skepticism before parting with your money or personal information.


Scams can financially and emotionally devastate victims. But reporting scams helps protect others, aids investigators, and can potentially lead to recoveries or prosecutions. File detailed scam reports with every relevant authority and organization. Carefully document evidence to help build cases against culprits. Beware of any further contact from scammers demanding payments and promising help recovering your money. There are limited options for restitution, so early intervention is key. Use caution sharing personal information and watch for warning signs of scams. Reporting diligently along with proactive precautions will help crack down on these criminal operations seeking to exploit innocent people.