Reporting an Internet Crime

Our office received a call today from a woman who received a phone call from someone claiming to represent Microsoft Tech Support.  The so-called tech support person told the woman that she had several viruses on her computer and he would send her a program to get rid of the viruses.  She gave him her email address, he sent the program, and she downloaded it on her computer.  She became suspicious when her computer didn’t seem to be working right and decided to call us.  We advised her of the steps she should take, but we wonder if other consumers know what steps to take if they become the victim of an Internet crime.  So, we’d like to share with you some important information on Internet crime reporting.

If you received a phone call, filled out a form, or gave out information and think you could be a potential victim of a scam, we recommend you take the actions listed below, and remember it is important to act quickly.

Keep a log of all phone calls and all actions you take.

Call your bank and credit card company to let them know you were the victim of a cybercrime.  If your accounts have passwords, change them.  If your accounts don’t have passwords, you need to password protect them.  Create passwords that mix letters, numbers, and special characters. Don’t use the same password for more than one account.

File a complaint with IC3

File a complaint with the FTC; your completed complaint is called an FTC Affidavit. (Even though the FTC does not resolve individual consumer complaints, they will enter your complaint into Consumer Sentinel, a secure online database that is used by thousands of civil and law enforcement authorities worldwide.  These complaints can help the FTC and law enforcement agencies in their investigations and prosecutions.)

File a police report stating you have responded to a scam. If you become a victim, this will be necessary to mitigate your case. Also, you may use this police report to obtain a 7-year fraud alert or a credit freeze.   

Inform your webmail service provider and request that they preserve the web access logs so investigators can view them.

Run a virus scan and a malware scan before you change your computer and email passwords.

Change the passwords on your computer and on your main email account.

Make sure you download the latest security patches for your operating system.

Contact one of the credit reporting agencies: Equifax 1-800-525-6285, Experian 1-888-397-3742, TransUnion 1-800-680-7289.  Ask them to place a fraud alert on your credit report. The company you call must contact the other two so they can put fraud alerts on your files. An initial fraud alert is good for 90 days and can be renewed.

Order a report from each credit reporting agency at www.annualcreditreport.com.  When you order, you must answer some questions to prove your identity. Read your reports carefully to see if the information is correct. If you see mistakes or signs of fraud, contact the credit reporting company.

Report fraud to each of your creditors.  Ask each creditor to place a “fraud alert” on your account and follow up in writing.

Notify DMV if you gave your driver’s license number.

Monitor your monthly statements.  If there is a questionable charge or change of information then report it to the fraud department of that company immediately and close that account.

For more information you can trust, see

Phony Computer Tech Support Calls

Identity Theft of Children on the Rise

Practical and Useful Tips to Avoid Identity Theft

Why ID Theft Victims Need to File Police Reports

ID Theft Victim Kit from the Indiana Attorney General

Computer Maladies and Their Various Ailments

About Jackie 246 Articles
Jackie is the Operations and Education Foundation Assistant with the BBB. She assists consumers with business inquiries, and does presentations to senior groups and high school students. She is a regular contributor to the blog.

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