Personal Finance 

How to Report a Scam

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TelephoneWe just spent the last three days going over some of the more popular internet scams out there and today we’re going to do something about it.

One of the difficult parts about reporting scams is that there are so many scammers! It can feel like you’re fighting against the tide… the tide will keep coming no matter what you do. When it comes to scams like a fake Nigerian prince asking you for help or notification that you’ve won the Irish International Lottery, mark the email as spam and move on. The combination of a million scammers and the fact that they’re abroad makes enforcement nearly impossible. If it’s something more local or more involved, like a fake work at home job from a company located in the domestic United States, report it to the authorities.

File a Report with the Internet Crime Complaint Center

The Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) is a partnership between the FBI, the National White Collar Crime Center (NW3C) and the Bureau of Justice Assistance. They focus specifically on cyber-crime, from scams like we’ve talked about today to identity theft and other acts of fraud and theft. If you were to file only one complaint, this is the one you’d want to send because they focus entirely on crimes committed online. They will investigate and usually pass it along to the necessary enforcement or regulatory agency. Hopefully, in time, you will get some sort of resolution for your complaint.

File a Report with the FTC

After the Internet Crime Complaint Center, set your sights on the FTC Complaint Assistant. By reporting the scam and the scammer, you help protect other people from falling prey to the person you’ve identified. Even if you feel like it’s a little hopeless, remember that the FTC can compile all of the data they receive to detect patterns, new scams, and notify the public about the rising popularity of scams. One report won’t change the world but if everyone starts reporting, the FTC can respond and issue warnings to consumers.

While I said that it’s much harder to resolve international complaints, it doesn’t meant you shouldn’t try. You can use to file international cross-border complaints.

If you see a scam, try to do your part to protect yourself and others. You never know when the next person to be scammed will be someone you know and care about.

(Photo: atillavibes)

{ 12 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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12 Responses to “How to Report a Scam”

  1. cubiclegeoff says:

    Also, if the scam involves the IRS (such as one saying they have your refund, send them your banking info), the IRS has a special place to forward the email to report it.

  2. JH says:

    Or you can bait the scammer and frustrate him into quitting! Or even, if you’re good enough, scam him back. I’ve seen it done- check out Mike Berry’s book “Greetings in Jesus Name”. Go!

  3. jsbrendog says:

    this is solid solid advice. I haven;t had a chance to look through the posts on specific scams but I will go do that now. well done, as usual

  4. fairydust says:

    I have a question (and I realize you may still get to this scam since it’s not the end of the week yet) – there’s apparently a Craig’s List scam that I don’t fully understand. I listed a car not long ago, and within moments, I received three very earnest replies, each with a similar sort of message – that they aren’t in the area right this second, but they are absolutely SURE they want to buy my car, so would I please remove the listing and they’ll be there to pick up the car and pay me as soon as they can. I had listed the car for $500 firm, cash, and with photos – it was a real beater. So given how similar these emails were, I gather it’s a scam, but to what end? What does my taking the listing down right away get them? I guess I just don’t see how this would necessarily result in their getting anything from me. Has anyone heard of this and gotten more info on how it works?

    I hit delete on those messages and sold the car to a local three days later for cash, so it all worked out 🙂

    • Jim says:

      Hmmm, I’ve never heard of those before… maybe it’s not a scam but someone else selling a similar car? They wanted you to remove your listing so they don’t have competition?

      • fairydust says:

        I suppose that’s possible, but three different people/names, three different emails, and three different out-of-town locations where they were at that moment. It just seemed like a scam.

    • Jose says:

      I imagine they were trying to bait you with the email, not scam you (yet). They make it seem like they are a legit buyer by asking you to take down the add so that no one else will try and buy it. Then they perform the real scam after the fact.

  5. Loren Chiyo says:

    Email services like gmail has “spam” and “report phishing” functions – I wish they would have a “report scam” function and streamline this.

    It is exactly in tough times like this that scammers come out by the droves. They capitalize on the desperation of folks and they injure the very people who cannot afford to be scammed.

  6. zapeta says:

    Thanks for all the information this week. I think the best thing to do is to warn others about any scams you come across. Unfortunately there isn’t much you can do once you are scammed so you’ve just got to protect yourself.

  7. Shirley says:

    Many of these same scams are being perpetrated on the telephone.

    An elderly lady that I personally know sent $6,000 to a supposed lawyer because “her grandson was in trouble in New York.” It all seemed plausible to her until she called the boy’s mother, after doing it. The elderly are particularly vulnerable.

    Of course, this was reported but there is no way she will ever get her money back. Sad.

  8. Herman says:

    Do you have resources for merchants that receive fraudulent orders? I tried contacting the ISP the IP address is from. They told me to contact local authorities since they can’t determine fraudulent activity on their servers. Then I contacted the credit card company and I went menu selection hell. Isn’t there a single place to report this stuff easily?

  9. John says:

    I am victim of a scamer who lives in new york as I am not good in spoken english I would like to send a complaint by fax to a police department. If somebody know the number and would like to help me, please send it to me. Thank you

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