How to File a Complaint

Think You're a Victim of a Scam? Here's What You Can Do About it EDITOR'S NOTE: This material was prepared by the Federal Trade Commission, which provides many identity protection resources at www.ftc.gov and www.onguardonline.gov

Your complaint is an essential resource for local, state, and federal law enforcement officials. Law enforcers review consumer complaints to spot trends and build cases against hackers, identity thieves, and scam artists.

Here's how to file a complaint about various types of Internet-related problems:

Hacking or a Computer Virus

If your computer gets hacked or infected by a virus, disconnect from the Internet and scan it with fully updated anti-virus software, and update your firewall. Then notify your Internet Service Provider (ISP) and the hacker's ISP, if you can tell what it is. Finally, file a complaint with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

ID Theft

If your information has been misused, file a report about your identity theft with the police, and file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission at ftc.gov/idtheft. Read Take Charge: Fighting Back Against Identity Theft for detailed information on other steps to take in the wake of identity theft.

Internet Auctions

If you have problems during a transaction, try to work them out directly with the seller, buyer, or site operator. If that doesn't work, file a complaint with:

  • the attorney general's office in your state. You can find your state Attorney General's contact information on the website of the National Association of Attorneys General.
  • your county or state consumer protection agency. Check the blue pages of the phone book under county and state government.
  • the FTC.

Spyware If you believe your computer has spyware, the FTC wants to know. File a complaint with the FTC.

Phishing

Forward spam that is phishing for information to spam@uce.gov and to the company, bank, or organization impersonated in the phishing email. Most organizations have information on their websites about where to report problems. You also may report phishing email to reportphishing@antiphishing.org. The Anti-Phishing Working Group, a consortium of ISPs, security vendors, financial institutions and law enforcement agencies, uses these reports to fight phishing.

If you believe you've been scammed, file your complaint at ftc.gov, and then visit the FTC's Identity Theft website at ftc.gov/idtheft. Victims of phishing can become victims of identity theft.

Spam

Should you receive an email that you think may be fraudulent, forward it to the FTC at spam@uce.gov and to the abuse desk of the sender's ISP. Also, if the email appears to be impersonating a bank or other company or organization, forward the message to the actual organization.

Online Shopping Fraud

If you have problems during a transaction, try to work them out directly with the seller, buyer or site operator. If that doesn't work, file a complaint with:

  • the Attorney General's office in your state. You can find your state Attorney General's contact information on the website of the National Association of Attorneys General.
  • your county or state consumer protection agency. Check the blue pages of the phone book under county and state government.
  • the Better Business Bureau.
  • the FTC.

Online Investing

If you've been a victim of online investment fraud, send your complaint to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, using the agency's Online Complaint Center.

Cross-Border Scams

If you think you may have responded to a cross-border scam, file a complaint at eConsumer.gov. Then visit the FTC's identity theft website at ftc.gov/idtheft to learn how to minimize your risk. If you've been involved in a "Nigerian" scheme, contact your local Secret Service field office. Report telemarketing fraud and check overpayment scams to your state Attorney General. Report any unsolicited email offers to spam@uce.gov. If you receive what looks like lottery material from a foreign country through the postal mail, give it to your local postmaster.


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