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How to Report a Scam

We 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) [3] 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 [4]. 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 Econsumer.gov [5] 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 [6])