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How to protect yourself from fraud recovery scams

Stay vigilant against scammers who promise to get your money back.

By ATB Financial 24 May 2024 3 min read

Falling victim to a scam is an upsetting experience, leaving you feeling violated, vulnerable, and eager to recover the funds you lost. 

It’s normal to want to find solutions and support. But staying vigilant is crucial at this stage because of how commonly fraudsters have begun to capitalize on the vulnerability of previous victims using something called a recovery scam. 


What a recovery scam looks like 

Imagine you've recently fallen for a crypto scam. You're feeling vulnerable and you just want your money back. You see an advertisement, receive a call or read a social media message from a company saying that it can help you recover your funds. 

The person asks for a service fee upfront. Because you’re eager to recoup your loss, you agree. But the scammer then disappears and suddenly you’ve lost even more money. 

This is a classic example of a recovery scam. Scammers use the emotional distress of previous fraud victims to re-victimize them.

These scams specifically target people who have already lost money to fraud or scams. They offer false promises to recover your funds in exchange for a service fee or personal information.

In a typical recovery scam, the fraudster poses as a representative from a legitimate organization (like your bank), claiming they can recover your lost money. They may even provide counterfeit documentation from financial institutions to help you feel confident they have been able to secure your funds and get them back to you. 

They offer a glimmer of hope, but in reality, they're only after more of your money. When the scammer disappears, taking the fee or your sensitive information with them, you’re left worse off — financially and emotionally. 

The emotional toll of recovery scams can be severe. You might feel shame or hopelessness. You may even blame yourself.  This distress can make it difficult for victims to report the crime, which enables scammers to continue their deceptive practices. 


What to watch for 

If you or someone you know has been a victim of fraud, it’s critical to be mindful of the additional risk of recovery scams. 

Legitimate organizations will never ask for payment or personal information upfront to recover lost funds. If you're unsure about whether a recovery offer is legitimate, contact ATB or law enforcement for guidance.


If you've been targeted by a recovery scam

It's essential to report the incident to ATB, even if you feel embarrassed or ashamed about the situation.

Remember: falling victim to a scam is not your fault, and you're not alone in this experience. By reporting the scam to ATB, you can help prevent others from being harmed by the same fraudulent scheme. 

ATB's fraud prevention team is dedicated to investigating these cases and working with law enforcement to hold scammers accountable for their actions. Your report — no matter how small it may seem — can provide valuable information that contributes to a larger investigation and ultimately helps protect our community from more harm.


Here’s how to protect yourself 

The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC) outlines the tactics used in recovery scams. 

These include:

  1. Offering refunds for previous scam services, but requiring access to your computer and online banking in order to “process the refund.”
  2. Claiming your payment couldn't be processed and asking you to call a phone number.
  3. Posing as a government department or law enforcement agency and asking for your help in a sting operation.
  4. Claiming to have recovered your lost funds, but demanding you pay a fee in advance before the rest of the funds can be released to you.


To protect yourself, the CAFC advises you to:

  1. Never be afraid to hang up the phone.
  2. Never allow an unknown person to gain remote access to your computer or device.
  3. Always have your computer or device serviced by a reputable local business.
  4. Never pay a fee in advance to obtain a refund. 

At ATB, we're here to support you. We understand that the thought of falling victim to fraud a second time is overwhelming. If you suspect you've been targeted by a recovery scam, or any other type of fraud, contact us immediately at 1-800-332-8383. 

We'll work with you to investigate the situation and determine the best course of action. 

For more information about how you can pitch in on the team effort against fraud, visit our Online Banking Security Guarantee and banking and fraud prevention pages. 

You’ll find comprehensive details and helpful resources to deepen your understanding and enhance your online banking security.

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