person using cellphone holding credit card

Sharing a scam experience with someone you know takes courage. If someone trusts you enough to share their scam story, especially if the scammer is still in touch with them, here’s some advice to help guide you.

  • Lead with empathy. Respond with kindness and concern instead of criticizing or expressing disappointment. Scams can happen to anyone. Keep lines of communication open with a kind, concerned response.
  • Let them tell their story. Talking about a scam experience helps you both understand what happened and helps both of you spot scams in the future.
  • Validate their story. The only person at fault here is the scammer – not your friend or family member. It’s a scammer’s job to steal money or information, and they’ll target anyone. Ask them not to blame themselves and, instead, blame the scammer.

Ask what can be done next, together. See if their personal information was involved; if so, identity theft might be a concern. And see if they want to report the scam. Their story can help protect friends, family, their community, and themselves, as well as help law enforcement agencies like the FTC fight the scam.

If scammers find the right buttons to push at the wrong time – like when we’re distracted or stressed – any of us might just pay them or share information. Thank you for helping someone through a difficult time.