CHICAGO, IL -Â What is “Scambaiting”? To define it simply – it’s getting even with person or a business that has either scammed you or attempted to scam you. You can find hundreds of examples, articles and real life stories on the internet about “scambaiting” and people who engage in it. While it may be tempting to want to get revenge on a scammer the Better Business Bureau (BBB) warns it’s not always a safe thing to do.
The scam can be online through an email or a pop-up, on the phone or using snail mail. Scammers count on anonymity and in some cases distance to keep their potential victim at arm’s length and to “safely” pull off their scam. Most individuals who are active scambaiters know how scammers work and their goal is to disrupt the process. They are often computer experts who know how to protect themselves and hide their identities. However, when you don’t have that knowledge there are some real dangers in trying to achieve that goal.
“If they are actual victims of a scam they may be angry and have decided they will get even. But, in the case where the scammer knows more about you than you do them, the victims may only make matters worse,” says Steve J. Bernas, president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois.
To disrupt the process scambaiters return emails, phone calls or letters asking lots of questions at the same time leading the scammers to believe they have bought into the scam. With the scammers believing they have a victim, they will concentrate their efforts on that individual and will leave potential victims alone.
Whether it is a romance, money request or investment scam or you’re trying to get your money back the FBI says there are risks:
- You can’t assume the scammer is based outside the U.S. because of a foreign accent.
- Don’t assume that they only have a phone number that’s all the information they have. A reverse look-up can lead them to your door.
- If it’s the grandparent or distressed relative scam you can’t assume that the scammer doesn’t really know who you are or where to locate you.
- If you get angry with a phone scammer remember they have your number and can send a barrage of robocalls your way.
Here are safe rules to follow if you are on the receiving end of a scam attempt:
- If it’s an email, delete it.
- If it’s a phone call, just hang up. If the calls continue contact your phone company for help. Using the blocking feature on your phone may also help.
- If you receive a threat, contact the police.