Reporting a Cyber Crime: What You Need to Know

So it happened. You took all the precautions: updated your software, installed a firewall, monitored your child's internet habits, and didn't open any unfamiliar emails. However, despite your best efforts, someone in your household fell for a phishing scam. Or clicked on a bad link. Or chatted with the wrong person. And now there's a problem that needs solving, and it goes beyond an infected computer.

If you or someone in your family has been a victim of a cyber crime, whether the crime involves identity theft, fraud, online solicitation, or stalking, you may be unsure of what to do next. Do you call the police? The ISP? Your email client? According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), most law enforcement experts agree that the vast majority of cyber crimes are not reported, which allows the perpetrators to continue to carry out their crimes and victimize others. The FBI, in partnership with the National White Collar Crime Center, has helped establish an online source of help, the Internet Crime Complaint Center (ICCC), where internet users can file complaints for any type of online crime. After each complaint is reviewed and evaluated, the organization refers it to the law enforcement or regulatory agency that has appropriate jurisdiction. The site logs about 18,000 complaints each month.

According to the ICCC, internet crime is defined as "any illegal activity involving one or more components of the Internet, such as websites, chat rooms, and/or email. Internet crime involves the use of the Internet to communicate false or fraudulent representations to consumers." This includes advance-fee schemes, non-delivery of goods or services, computer hacking, or employment/business opportunity schemes. In the event of an urgent or time-sensitive complaint, such as an online threat, the organization recommends contacting local authorities before filing an online complaint.

Upon filing a complaint, the ICCC will ask you to provide your name, address, and telephone number, along with the name, address, telephone number, and Web address of the alleged perpetrator or group you are reporting. A specific report of the incident is also required, along with any other relevant information you believe is necessary to support your complaint. Though the ICCC doesn't collect evidence related to complaints itself, the organization recommends you keep any evidence you may have to share with the authorities referred to your case, including:

  1. Canceled checks
  2. Certified or other mail receipts
  3. Chatroom or newsgroup text
  4. Credit card receipts
  5. Envelopes received through ground mail
  6. Facsimiles
  7. Money order receipts
  8. Pamphlets or brochures
  9. Phone bills
  10. Printed or preferably electronic copies of emails
  11. Printed or preferably electronic copies of web pages
  12. Wire receipts

For more information or to report a cyber crime, visit http://www.ic3.gov.

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