(YAHOO/KAKE) - There are a lot of scammers out there, and some of them, unfortunately, manage to bilk people out of money. You can be scammed while shopping online, looking for a job, searching for a loan or even booking a vacation. Cybercriminals are even sending SMS text messages in an attempt to part people with their hard-earned money, according to Yahoo News.

"The rapid growth in SMS-driven fraud is probably the most dangerous and increasingly common," Rob Shavell, co-founder and chief executive officer of the consumer cybersecurity firm DeleteMe, tells Yahoo Life. "Well-spoofed text messages don’t provide any clear detail or cues as to the identity of the sender, nor do they provide hints in the shortened links they typically provide, making phishing tactics far more successful by taking advantage of a single press of a finger."

The good news is that there are steps that you can take to protect yourself, and, in same instances, get your money back if you've fallen prey to a scammer.  

One of the best ways you can protect yourself from scams of all types is to clean up your digital footprint," says Shavell. "Old email accounts, social media profiles, companies you’ve done business with that have subsequently gone out of business — all of these past records leave a trail of information online that eventually ends up for sale on public databases. Improving personal information hygiene helps people avoid being targeted by scammers in the first place."

Using a safeguard like Malwarebytes can serve as a buffer between you and cybercriminals. The software stack offers 24/7 real-time protection against a variety of significant existing and emerging threats, including malware, viruses, spyware, online scams, phishing sites, and ransomware, to help stop them before they can reach you.

In addition, look over your credit card and banking statements for suspicious charges and additionally ensure you were actually billed the correct amount by auditing your transactions.   


If you've fallen victim to a scam and made a payment with a credit or debit card, you might be able to ask your bank to help get your money back through what is known as a "chargeback."   

Let's say you give your credit card number to someone to charge a certain amount on it, but later realize more money was charged without your permission or your knowledge. You can make a claim for the extra amount through your credit card company.

If you've been targeted in a bank transfer scam — when you transfer money from your account to a scammer's — then you need to contact your bank NOW. Explain to the bank what happened, and let them know the bank account number your money was sent to.

If the scammer has taken payment for an item through a reputable organization and then hasn't sent you what you paid for, you should be covered by most payment portal buyer protection programs. But there are some exceptions and time limits on lodging a claim.

Most secure payment gateway services provide recommendations on how to avoid fraud and scams, so take the time to read their advice on how to protect yourself against scams like this in the future.   

Unfortunately, there are times you will likely not be able to get your money back. Money sent by wire transfer services, such as Western Union are very hard to receive a refund from. It wouldn't hurt, though to contact the wire transfer company right away, telling them it was a fraudulent transfer and asking them to reverse it, according to the Federal Trade Commission .

If you've been scammed, consider reporting the fraud to the police to see if they can take any action, as well as to your state consumer protection office. You can also report scams to the FTC. File a report online with the FTC, or by phone at (877) 382-4357. These reports are used by government agencies to recognize scam patterns. Some may even take action against companies or industries based on those reports. However, most agencies do not follow up on complaints and cannot recoup lost funds.

In the future, if you get an email from a person, brand or store you're not familiar with, don't click on any links.  If you're asked for credit card details by anyone other than your bank or a legitimate business you know, don't tell them.  And if someone says they can only be paid via wire transfer, that is a huge red flag! According to the FTC, if you wire money to a person trying to sell you something over the phone, for example, you won't have the same protections as you would using a credit card. It's also illegal for a telemarketer to ask you to pay with a wire transfer, according to the FTC.