How Do I Report Online Scams?

Recognizing online scams protects your personal information, but you can also help protect hundreds of others from identity theft when you report an online scam. A number of government agencies take complaints about online scams and cybercrime.

  • The Department of Justice (DOJ)
  • The Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3)
  • The Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
  • econsumer.gov

If you’ve had a close call with or been a victim of an online scam, here’s what each of these agencies can do to help.

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The Department of Justice

You can report internet-related crimes like computer hacking and fraud through the DOJ. Depending on the type of crime committed, the DOJ will direct you to the proper agency.

Type of Internet-Related Crime
Report to These Agencies
Computer hackingLocal FBI office, US Secret Service, IC3
Password traffickingLocal FBI office, US Secret Service, IC3
Online fraud and spamLocal FBI office, US Secret Service, FTC, Securities and Exchange Commission, IC3
Online harassmentLocal FBI Office

The Internet Crime Complaint Center

The IC3 is an alliance between the FBI and the National White Collar Crime Center (NW3C). It works as a clearing house to receive, develop, and refer complaints about cybercrime. You can report complaints via the agency’s online portal. Information you need to file a complete complaint includes the following.

  • Name, address, telephone, and email for the victim.
  • If you were a victim of financial fraud, information about the fraudulent transaction, including account information, the date of the transaction, transaction amount, and to whom the money was sent.
  • Name, address, telephone, email, website, and IP address of the perpetrator.
  • Specific details about the crime.
  • Any relevant email headers (cut and pasted from the email you received).

The Federal Trade Commission

Report cybercrimes like identity theft, phishing scams, spam email, and online shopping scams through the FTC’s online Complaint Assistant. All you need to do is select the proper category for your complaint, and the Complaint Assistant will walk you through questions related to your complaint. You will also be able to explain what happened in your own words. If you have trouble choosing the right category or answering the questions, the FTC has online chat available Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. until 8:00 p.m. ET.

econsumer.gov

 This organization is best for reporting scams that don’t originate in the US. It is affiliated with more than thirty-five international consumer protection agencies, including the FTC. It takes complaints related to online shopping, ecommerce, and computer attacks like malware. Complaints filed with econsumer.gov are also entered into the FTC’s consumer complaint database. The process to file a complaint is similar to the FTC’s Complaint Assistant. You select the appropriate category, answer a string of questions about the crime, and explain what happened in your own words.


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Rebecca Edwards
Written by
Rebecca Edwards
Rebecca is the lead safety reporter and in-house expert for SafeWise.com. She has been a journalist and blogger for over 25 years, with a focus on home and community safety for the past eight. Rebecca spends dozens of hours every month poring over crime reports and spotting trends. Her safety expertise is sought after by publications, broadcast journalists, non-profit organizations, podcasts, and more. You can find her expert advice and analysis in places like TechCrunch, The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, The Miami Herald, NPR, HGTV, MSN, Reader's Digest, Real Simple, and an ever-growing library of radio and TV clips.

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