How to Report Email Fraud to the FBI

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According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, 206,884 internet crimes were reported in 2007, with losses exceeding $240 million. One of the most common means of perpetrating an internet crime is phishing. The phisher sends an email that is presented as originating from a legitimate organization. The email may request personal information or may contain a link or attachment, either of which may install a key logger on your computer which will gather and distribute sensitive information.

  • Identify suspicious emails. There are a number of means through which criminals attempt to gather personal information. The Anti-Phishing Working Group provides guidelines to help detect which emails are legitimate.

    Be particularly cautious if you receive an email that:
    • Asks you to confirm your address or phone number
    • Asks you to confirm your banking or credit account information
    • Asks you to confirm your password (this does not refer to email verification for site registration, which doesn't ask the user to provide information but rather asks the user to confirm the receipt of the email)
    • Presents an urgent message
    • Contains typos and grammatical problems (most legitimate companies have copy editors that review consumer email content for errors)
    • Asks for your social security number

  • Gather information. The FBI will want as much information as possible, so be prepared to give your name and contact information, the name and contact information for the company or individual who defrauded or attempted to defraud you, and any other documentation you can provide such as copies of emails, bank transaction numbers, etc.

  • Report phishing to the FBI as well as to the company that is falsely represented. (For example, if you receive an email that appears to be from your bank but you doubt its validity, report the email to both the FBI and the bank itself. The FBI processes internet crime complaints through the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3).

    Agree to the terms IC3 sets out when filing a complaint. In agreeing to IC3's terms the complainant attests to the veracity of the information to follow.

    Fill out the questionnaire. After agreeing to IC3's terms you will automatically advance to a questionnaire where you will provide the information gathered in Step 1.

  • Prevent future email fraud by installing anti-virus protection and updating frequently.

Tips & Warnings

  • Never click on links in suspicious emails. Instead, go to the company's website directly through the browser.
  • Never open attachments in suspicious emails.

References

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