What should I do if I am scammed?

First, contact the person or business that you think has scammed you. At first, a simple phone call may be enough to resolve the matter, particularly if the issue is just a misunderstanding. If the phone call does not resolve the issue, write the alleged scammer a letter outlining the way in which you think you've been harmed (assuming you can find contact information for the scammer). Always keep a copy of all letters you write as evidence. Depending on the nature of the scam, you should also consider filing a police report. Compile all evidence of the scam you have in writing.

If warranted, and if the amount you've lost is $5,000 or less, consider filing a lawsuit in small claims court. You will not need to have an attorney to bring the suit in small claims court. The Illinois State Attorney General's Office has an overview of how to file a claim online and other useful information at www.illinoisattorneygeneral.gov.

If you cannot resolve the issue through the means above, and the scammer is a legally existing business, contact and report the scammer to the Illinois Attorney General’s Office, the Federal Trade Commission, or the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Debt Collection

Under both state and federal debt collection laws, debt collection companies must treat you with respect and dignity, when trying to collect a debt. To that end a debt collection agency cannot:

-Use violence, threaten, intimidate, or otherwise harass you into paying a debt;

-Contact you if you request for them to not call you;

-Call your house or cell phone number before 8:00 a.m. and after 9:00 p.m.;

-Throw you in jail for your failure to pay your debt;

-Force you to pay their attorney fees, if the original contract did not provide for it.

Common Scams/Questions

How do I protect my information when shopping online? What should I look for before entering my personal information or credit card number to complete a purchase on a website?

Shop only at sites you trust.

Don’t make online credit card purchases from a public place. Public computers and networks are less secure so there’s a greater chance that your credit card information can be stolen when you use it on a public computer.

Protect your computer from viruses and hackers.

Make sure the credit card entry page is secure. Only enter your credit card information on secure websites. You can check a website’s security by checking the URL. On the page that you enter your credit card information, the URL in your browser’s address bar should begin with “https://” and or there should be a lock in the upper or lower right corner.