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How to Report an Internet Scam

How to Report an Internet Scam

Internet scams differ from other crimes in many ways, most notably being the way of reporting the crime. If you have been scammed online, you can't just dial 911 and report it. Scroll below to learn how and to whom should you report an Internet fraud or scam.
Techspirited Staff
Scamming pre-Internet arrival: A man distracts you from the front, while his partner quietly picks your pocket. You pay $2 to enter a freak show exhibition, only to find the "live" exhibits are actually puppets.

Scamming post-Internet arrival: You get an email stating you have won the sweepstakes or the lottery from a very big corporation, whose name you know and trust. The email asks you to get in touch with them immediately and you will have to furnish all sorts of personal information (passport number, address, phone number, etc.). Excited at winning and enticed by the millions of dollars or pounds or whichever currency being given to you, you immediately reply to the mail, filled with all the details asked. The promised loot never comes but you soon become the victim of an identity theft.


The problem with catching Internet crooks is that the Internet is a very wide space to hide in. No one is who they say they are online. Your chatting buddy from France is actually the plumber across the street. You think you are playing Warcraft online with your friend, but it's really his dad (or mom). Anonymity is practically guaranteed online and it is quite difficult to prove who's legit and who's not. So if you have been scammed or know someone who's been scammed or know of a scam taking place, don't sit quiet. Do something about it by reporting the scam. Listed below are some techniques on how to report Internet scams.

Ways to Report Internet Scams

Irrespective of whatever the type of Internet scam, you will need to provide specific details of the scam and your own personal information. Make sure you keep a record of all information concerned with the scam, such as emails, contact information, etc. There are certain authorities and bodies to whom you should report online fraud and scams. The steps involved in reporting a scam are:

File a Report through the IC3
The Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) is an organization, set up and handled by 3 major government organizations, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the National White Collar Crime Center (NW3C) and the Bureau of Justice Association (BJA). This center is specifically designed to handle online Internet crimes such as identity theft, money laundering and scams, hacking, extortion, etc. You will need to provide details about your identity and specific information about the scam.

File a Complaint with the FTC and State Attorney General
The Federal Trade Commission protects the rights of consumers and will tackle complaints and issues with companies and businesses that fall under the US jurisdiction. So if you have been scammed online, you can report the incident and attach the scamming email sent to you, to the FTC by visiting their official site and filing a report. The FTC will look into phishing and email scams, identity thefts and complaints against companies. If you have received a spam mail or phishing messages, send an email to the address "spam@uce.gov". Such messages are scanned and stored in a central online database, which can be accessed by law enforcement agencies around the country. Contact your State Attorney General, either by telephone or email, to register a complaint. For online transactions and dealings with foreign companies and businesses, visit the "econsumer.gov site".

Contact your Local Police Force
With the influx of Internet crimes, most local police stations have set up their own online crime cell or even a dedicated Internet fraud crime unit. Along with reporting child pornography and obscenity crimes, which take place on the Internet, such crime cells will tackle issues of online identity theft, credit card or banking online theft and other such online scams. They will file a formal report and can send out details of the scam to other police stations as well as check their criminal database. Along with reporting to the above-mentioned authorities, reporting Internet scams to the police should be done as soon as possible.

File a Complaint with the Company Mentioned in the Scam
If the Internet scam is using some company or brand's name to lure potential victims, then it makes sense to report the crime to the concerned company. After all, their name and reputation is being compromised by such devious practices and they have a right to defend themselves. You can send an email to their official email address or contact their concerned security department. Provide as much detailed information as possible. Visit their official site and register a complaint at their "contact us" page.

Report the Scam to the Bank or Credit Card Company
If you are a victim of a credit card fraud or an Internet scam, where you have given your credit card and banking account details, you must urgently report the crime to your bank's fraud department. Once notified, the bank can track transactions being done on the account as well as change your PIN and account login details, minimizing the damage.

Once you have reported the crime, you may receive a case ID or token to keep a track of the investigation's progress. To prevent another scam, be alert and careful while surfing the Web. Always check the authenticity of any organization or company that contacts you.