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What to do if you have been a victim of an online ...

What to do if you have been a victim of an online scam

So you’ve found a listing of the perfect house: spacious, enviable location, incredible views, a perfectly-maintained interior… And, on the top of that, the price is quite cheaper than the rest of the houses in the area. Everything runs so smoothly until the alleged owner asks you for money and suddenly disappears. And now what? How can I deal with an online scam?

Unfortunately, online scams, or phishing, are becoming more and more common every day. No matter how careful you are, sometimes you just can’t avoid being a victim of a fraud in the Internet. every business that publishes, shows or manages ads online is susceptible to professional scammers, skilled in the art of not being detected and disappear when it’s too late. There is always a small risk of this to happen in online businesses, since you don’t meet the seller face to face. This is why here at Trovit we work hard in order to detect and reduce this type of offers as much as possible. I have witnessed several cases of affected users and I’ve seen that it’s not always clear what needs to be done. Mostly due to unawareness, lack of experience, or even shame.

Trovit is a search engine that shows listings from other classifieds websites. That is, we don’t have our own ads. Although we are constantly working to identify suspicious offers, it is unavoidable that some of them go unnoticed and reach our search results. Although I hope you don’t have to deal with this problem, I want you to know the steps you should follow if you’ve been a victim of a real estate fraud in a classifieds website. And also if you’ve been lucky enough to not to live this bad experience so that you’re forewarned.

1. Save all the information

Collect all the data you have from the person who contacted you and the listing as well. The more information you have, the greater the chances of finding the suspect. And, therefore, the chances of getting your money back. Some important details of the advertiser are the name, the phone number and the email address. Regarding the listing, save the ad’s link, the exact title and screenshots.

2. Report the scam to the police

It is essential that you report the crime to the police so they can find the person who has committed the fraud. Authorities often offer specific services or departments for online frauds, so find out which is the one in charge of it in your country or region.  

When making the complaint, you need to bring along the following information:

  • The link of the fraudulent listing
  • The contact email of the suspect
  • The phone number of the suspect

 

Once made, the police will contact either the search engine where the ad appears; or the original website where it was originally published. These platforms will provide them information such as the date of publication of the listing, the registration date of the user and the IP addresses.

3. Report the scam to the search engine

It is necessary to notify the website where you found the ad so they can act on it. In the case of Trovit we need the following information, in order of importance:

  • The link of the fraudulent listing
  • The exact title of the listing
  • The contact email of the suspect
  • Screenshots of the listing and the conversations between you and the suspect

 

Once we receive this information, we will immediately remove the ad. However, it can take up to 24 hours to disappear completely from our search results, since it needs some technical processing. On the other hand, we also penalize the user who posted the offer.

If the listing appears on our website, there are many ways you can report it:

  • Contacting us via support@trovit.com
  • Sending us a private message to our Facebook page
  • Clicking on the “Report” button on the results page
  • Clicking on the “Report” button on the ad page

 

4. Report the scam to the original website

As I mentioned before, Trovit is an aggregator and not a web with its own listings. This means that, even if we delete the publication on our search engine, it will remain active in the original website where it has been published. Therefore, you need to contact them to remove it from their platform. Otherwise, when we receive the list of ads on this website, they will appear again.

5. Inform about the scam to friends, family and potential victims

If you’ve been a victim of an online scam, you can’t go back in time. But you can inform other people so they are careful. Apart from explaining it to your family and friends, it is also a good practice to report it on social networks or specific fraud forums.

6. Protect your personal online security

When the fraud takes place, some of your personal information may be left uncovered. For example, bank details or your credit card number. To avoid possible problems, change all your passwords or, if you’re not sure, cancel your credit card and request a new one. Also, don’t forget to check your bank account to verify that there aren’t strange movements or charges.

In summary…

It’s very important to keep calm if you’ve been a victim of an online scam. It’s true that you can’t always get your money back, but if you follow these steps you will increase the chances of doing it. Not only that, you will also be helping potential victims so they don’t fall in the same trap.

If you’re not sure you’re facing an online scam or want to know the most frequent cases and how to avoid them, take a look at this article.


Digital Marketing Specialist

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