Where and How to File Your Internet Scam Complaint

FBI and white collar crime group offer scam complaint service: Internet Scambusters #519

Our occasional series spotlighting key anti-scam organizations falls this week on a key central agency that simplifies the process of filing a scam complaint.

The Internet Crime Complaint Center, better known as IC3, ensures your complaint is directed to the most appropriate law enforcement or regulatory organization(s), as well as offering a regular scam alert service.

In this week’s issue we explain the scope of their services — and how to get in touch with them to file a complaint.

Let’s get started…


Where to File Your Internet Scam Complaint


Where do you turn when you want to make a scam complaint?

Many organizations involved in the fight against fraud and con tricks, from law enforcement to consumer outfits like the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), can help you.

But if you’re not sure, a good starting point is the Internet Crime Complaint Center, better known as IC3.

IC3 is a partnership between the FBI and the National White Collar Crime Center (NW3C).

It’s also supported by a number of other agencies including the Business Software Alliance and the FTC, as well as firms like eBay, PayPal and Microsoft.

Although it deals mainly with Internet crime, it also handles certain other types of scams that may use additional channels such as the mail service — one of its other key allies is the United States Postal Inspection Service.

Examples of their scope of activity include auction and credit card fraud, phony jobs, identity theft and lotteries.

Check out their fuller list of what they define as Internet crime schemes and an outline of what they involve.

IC3 also handles complaints dealing with much larger-scale crime issues like theft of trade secrets and international money laundering.

Despite its formidable partnerships though, it is principally a clearing house for complaints.

It doesn’t investigate complaints itself but forwards them to the appropriate law enforcement agency — including the FBI of course.

How to Complain

It’s easy to file a complaint with IC3.

The first thing you see on their home page is an explanation of the details they need and a button you click that takes you through a series of yes/no questions so the scam can be properly identified.

Then it collects further personal information and details of the crime itself, which will likely be forwarded to federal, state, local or international law enforcement or an appropriate regulatory agency.

You can register a complaint if you have been scammed yourself or on behalf of someone else.

They’ll let you know who they’ve sent it to but they don’t guarantee a complaint will definitely be investigated. IC3 emphasizes that they’re not responsible for notifying credit card companies about any suspected fraud — that’s your job.

Beyond this, IC3 collects statistics on the levels of different types of cybercrime and latest trends, and helps with sharing data between its partners.

It issues regular alerts about scam outbreaks, which we use here at Scambusters as one of many ways of keeping a finger on the pulse of Internet fraud.

Although it’s principally aimed at the media, you can use this alert service yourself by visiting IC3’s online press room.

Here you’ll find details of the latest scams plus links to archives going back to 2003. The organization issues two or three new alerts most months.

Unfortunately, as of this writing, IC3 doesn’t offer an email alert service but if you use an online feed reader you can click on the “XML” button to set up a link to your email program.

If you’re in any way connected with community organizations, you might be interested in downloading a color poster, which highlights some of the key risks and signs of a scam.

There’s a link to this on the home page.

If you want to learn more about what IC3 does or if you’re unsure about whether they would handle your complaint, visit their FAQ page. Again, there’s a link on the home page.

In the war against scammers, IC3 plays a valuable role in simplifying the complaints process, sounding alerts and coordinating information.

It also plays an educational role by publicizing consumer alerts and latest scam activities, as well as producing posters and other materials to help in the war against scammers, especially those operating across national boundaries.

The White Collar Crime Center provides training in cybercrime detection and conducts research into all aspects of white collar crime — a term that usually refers to financial wrongdoing.

Although IC3 won’t investigate your scam complaint, by knowing where to direct it, they may help bring it to a swifter solution.

Time to conclude for today — have a great week!