If you’ve been scammed, then you need to notify the Police and get a crime number as you will need that when reporting the crime to your insurance company and others.
Depending what happened, you may have insurance that covers the loss so it’s always worth checking.
If the Police do not prosecute the fraudsters, it can be possible to make a civil prosecution yourself in some circumstances, but you would need to take legal guidance on your case to see if that can be done.
Assuming you have lost money in the scam, then there are different ways to try to get your money back depending on how the money was paid.
1 Credit Cards
If you've paid for goods or services with a credit card, you may be able to get your money back from the card provider.
Credit cards have the greatest protection, as you can make a claim against your card provider under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act (because it means the credit card company is liable for any breach of contract or misrepresentation by the seller). This only applies to purchases between £100 and £30,000.
2 Debit Cards
If you used a debit card, you may be able to ask your bank to get your money back through the chargeback scheme.
Chargeback is part of Scheme Rules, which participating banks subscribe to.
It applies to all debit card transactions including goods costing less that £100.
There are no guarantees your bank will be able to recover the money through chargeback, but you can try this route.
Chargeback also applies to credit card transactions and is particularly useful where the goods cost less than £100.
3 Unauthorised Card Transactions
If there is a transaction on your card you know nothing about, then you can make a claim from your card supplier as it is an “unauthorised transaction”.
If you hand over your card to have a specific amount debited from it e.g. to pay a restaurant bill, and then you find more money has been taken without your permission, or a sum has been taken by someone else, you can make a claim for this extra amount. Make sure you report the unauthorised transaction as soon as you become aware of it.
The Payment Services Regulations 2009 and the Banking Conduct of Business rules place obligations on banks and building societies to provide a refund in these circumstances if specific rules are met.
4 Bank transfers
If you've been conned into transferring money into another bank account than you should contact your bank immediately, so they can try to recover the funds.
if somehow the bank has contributed to the fraud or if they've failed to try to recover the funds properly, you might have grounds to complain
If your bank doesn’t give you a refund, then you can escalate your complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service (and do warn the bank)
You should also contact the police to get a crime number as this may be necessary for your claim.
5. Direct Debit
Contact your bank immediately if there has been an unauthorised direct debit on your account or the amount of a direct debit is higher than you expected. These are sometimes setup by the fraudster to take small amounts of money regularly in the hope you wont notice.
6 Money Transfer
If you’ve transferred money to a scammer using a money transfer service such as Western Union then it’s almost impossible to get your money back as it’s untraceable. It’s effectively the same as giving cash.
Money transfer services provide advice on how to avoid fraud and scams, so it’s a good idea to take note of it before using such a service.
If the scammer has taken payment for an item through PayPal and then hasn’t sent it to you, you may be covered by PayPal Buyer Protection. But do claim quickly.
In some cases scammers set up a fake PayPal payment form which actually just collects your bank details. In this case, you have no protection under the PayPal Buyer Protection Scheme as you didn’t use the genuine PayPal screen.
A scammer may pay through PayPal, take delivery of the order, and then claim that they didn't receive it and make a claim through PayPal Buyer Protection. If you’re caught by this scam you’ll probably want to make a claim under PayPal Seller Protection. PayPal will investigate what happened.
8. Payment by Mobile Phone
Paym, Pingit and other mobile services offer means to pay for goods and services using your mobile phone.
If there are any problems in payment then you need to contact the relevant shop, online retailer or whoever took the payment as soon as possible. Plus of course you notify the payment provider (Paym etc.)
If you are defrauded and made the payment by mobile phone then contact the payment provider.
If you have made an electronic payment but to the wrong account then talk to your bank immediately.
Improvements to industry procedures made in January 2016 make the process of attempting to get your money back more straightforward than previously but do act fast.
Be careful when making any payment and consider whether or not you would be covered in the event of fraud.
If you have any experiences with scammers, spammers or time-wasters do let me know – go to the About page then Contact Us.