How to Complain About False Advertising on the Internet

If you think you are the victim of false advertising on the Internet, the first organisation you should turn to is the Internet Crime Complaint Center, or the IC3. Sponsored by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the National White Collar Crime Center (NW3C), the IC3 is responsible for forwarding consumer complaints to the most suitable government law or regulatory agency. According to the IC3 mission statement, their goal is to provide a safe, effective and easy-to-navigate approach to reporting false advertising in an ever-increasing cyberspace medium. Whether your complaint concerns Internet identify theft, a Nigerian e-mail scam, or even computer hacking, filing a complaint report with the IC3 will notify the proper authorities of the crime.

Visit the IC3's website at and click on the link, "File a Complaint."

Read the complaint-filing disclaimer. The disclaimer will ask you to accept the terms of the IC3 complaint form you are about to submit. For further information on the privacy of this form, click on the link "Privacy Policy" before accepting the terms of the disclaimer.

Fill out the IC3's online complaint form. The questions on this form are a series of multiple choice and yes-or-no questions, followed by a section that asks you to describe your personal experience with Internet false advertising in detail. In this section, some personal information is required, such as your first and last name, your address, the amount of money lost, if any, and a description of the incident. It is important to note that it is a crime to provide false information to the IC3 (according to U.S. Code Title 18, Section 1001) and filing a complaint with the IC3 may not be confidential, depending on your region.

Review your complaint form in the "Review" screen, and press "Submit" to send your form to the IC3. The IC3 will forward your complaint to the appropriate agency.

If financial retribution is required, contact the Internet company responsible for the false advertising directly.

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About the Author

Leah Waldron is the head of Traveler Services at First Abroad, a gap year travel company based in Boston and London. As a travel, research and LGBT news writer, Waldron has publication credit on magazines and newspapers including "Curve Magazine," "USA Today," "The Sun Sentinel" and the "The Houston Chronicle." Waldron has a bachelor's and master's degree in creative writing from Florida State University.