5.9 million scam and fraud reports were submitted to the FTC in 2021. However, this number only provides us with a small glimpse of the overall impact of cybercrime. Generally, cybercrime is underreported. Victims either don’t realize they have been scammed, don’t think what has happened is a crime, or don’t know where to report. But reporting cybercrime has many benefits for our community as a whole. We encourage everyone who has experienced a cybercrime, no matter how big or small, to report it to the proper authorities.
Importance of Reporting Cybercrime
You may be asking yourself, “What’s the point?” That’s a great question. It can sometimes feel ineffective to report a cybercrime since many reporting agencies don’t conduct investigations directly. However, there are a lot of very important reasons you should report.
- A report creates a record that you may need down the line as evidence that the fraud took place.
- By alerting authorities, you can help prevent others from becoming victims by assisting in the prosecution of the criminals responsible. Reporting allows law enforcement to identify patterns and your case may hold a clue to catching a cybercriminal.
- Reporting data helps lawmakers allocate resources and funding to law enforcement and victim services focused on helping those impacted by cybercrime. Without accurate reporting data those who make the decisions don’t know how big or complex the problem is.
- Reporting cybercrime can also help to improve the overall security of the internet by providing information that can be used to identify and fix vulnerabilities.
Don’t hesitate to speak up and report it. Your efforts could help someone else avoid a scam.
Where to Report and What to Expect
Knowing where to report can be really confusing. There are so many places that collect scam, fraud and cybercrime reports, and it can be difficult to know which one is the right place for your specific situation. The list below is a great starting place.
Before you report, collect all documentation, paperwork, texts, emails, calls/phone logs, etc and store them in a safe place. You will want to submit this evidence when filing a report.
Report to local or state law enforcement
Your local or state law enforcement may take a report and forward it to the FBI or ask you to report to the FBI yourself. Some local and state law enforcement agencies have divisions dedicated to cybercrime, but not all agencies will accept reports for cybercrime.
Report all internet-related crime to FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3)
Trained analysts at the IC3 review and research complaints. It is important to note that IC3 does not conduct investigations directly and cannot provide the status of a filed complaint. Your complaint will be forwarded to the appropriate federal, state, local or international law enforcement. Investigation and prosecution is at the discretion of the receiving agency. Once you file a complaint with the IC3, you will receive a message at the top of your filed complaint noting your report number. You can save or print a copy for your records. This is the only time you will have to make a copy of your complaint.
Report fraud and scams to ReportFraud.FTC.gov
The report goes into the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) Consumer Sentinel database, which is available to federal, state and local law enforcement across the country. They use the database to spot trends, educate the public and share data about what is happening in our communities. They also use this data to investigate and bring cases against fraud, scams and bad business practices. Please note that the FTC is not able to respond to each report individually, and it can’t take action on behalf of individual consumers. When you submit your report, they’ll offer you next steps you can take to protect yourself or recover from fraud. The FTC does not typically call you. If they do, the person calling will have the reference number for your report.
Report identity theft to IdentityTheft.gov
IdentityTheft.gov is a website created by the FTC specific to identity theft complaints. These reports also go into the FTC’s Consumer Sentinel database. When you submit your report, they’ll provide you with a personalized recovery plan to walk you through the steps necessary to recover from identity theft.
Report to the platform or app where the scam took place
How you report will vary depending on the platform or app. Most social media platforms and dating apps allow you to report someone right from their account. Click on the three dots on the person’s profile to access a menu where you can choose to report. Results will vary depending on the platform or app. After you report the person, consider blocking them as well. That way they can’t contact you.