Computer fraud takes on many forms, according to the Computer Crime & Intellectual Property Section of the United States Department of Justice. Common crimes include hacking, password theft, phishing for credit card numbers, spam for fraudulent offers and fake ads posted on online classified sites. You can report computer fraud to various agencies and consumer protection sites to warn others, even if you did not fall for the scam, or to seek help if you are victimised.
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Report the computer fraud to the Internet Crime Complaint Center, or IC3. The IC3 is a joint venture of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, or FBI, the National White Collar Crime Center and the Bureau of Justice Assistance, created specifically to address computer fraud and online crime. The IdentityTheft101.org website explains that the IC3 passes the information along to the appropriate law enforcement agencies for further investigation.
Call the FBI for cases of hacking and other computer intrusions, password theft, spam and fraudulent online offers, the United States Department of Justice advises. The FBI has field offices in every state that can take your report.
Add any telephone numbers related to the computer fraud to an online phone fraud database (see Resources). Fraudulent spam, online classified ads and fake websites sometimes include contact telephone numbers. Report them to sites that collect such information in searchable databases. Potential victims may find the data and avoid the scam.
Call your credit card companies if there is any possibility that your account numbers were compromised by the computer fraud. Hackers may steal data from your computer, or you may be tricked into handing it out to a smooth-talking online scammer or entering it into a fake website. The Federal Trade Commission advises that most banks print a 24-hour fraud reporting hot line on their credit cards.
Add fraud alerts to you Equifax, TransUnion and Experian credit reports by calling one of the bureaus, which will alert the other two for you. Computer fraud often involves identity theft, so fraud alerts stop scammers from getting new accounts with your data. The FTC explains that an alert runs for 90 days, but can be extended for seven years if you get a police report and submit a copy to the credit bureaus with your extension request.
Tips and warnings
- Report scam ads, e-mails and websites to the host site, e-mail provider, spoofed company or service provider, the Fight Identity Theft website advises. You can often get fraudulent websites or e-mail accounts shut down, and companies can warn their customer about the spoofing.
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- Computer Crime & Intellectual Property Section: Reporting Computer, Internet-Related, or Intellectual Property Crime
- IdentityTheft101.org: Report a Scam or Fraud
- Federal Trade Commission: Credit, ATM and Debit Cards, What to do if They're Lost or Stolen
- Federal Trade Commission: Defend, Recover from Identity Theft
- Fight Identity Theft: How to Report a Scam