How to recognize and report an Internet scammer

Have you been the victim of an Internet scam?

Unexpected downloads, strange charges on your payment cards, and unusual behavior on social media accounts are just some of the signs that you have run into a scam on the net. By taking advantage of the Internet, it is even easier for hackers and scammers to trick you into disclosing personal information or tricked into delivering money.

From devious social engineering ploys to a seemingly harmless button to click, internet scams lurk in every corner. One scammer might try to steal your Netflix password, while another might try to hack your router or lure you with a webcam scam. Cybercriminals will use all possible tricks to get your money or steal sensitive information.

But before you can report an Internet fraud, you need to determine if you are a victim and possibly what kind of scam. Read on to find out how the type of scam determines how you will need to report it.

How to report an internet scam in the United States

First, you need to determine the type of scam you have come across. Then, you need to report it to your local police department, Internet Service Provider (ISP), and the company that issued your payment cards. At this point, the actions you take will depend on where you are and the type of scam.

If you live in the United States or think you have been the victim of a scam in the United States, there are many institutions you should report to. Note that most scam complaints in the United States require you to have contact information in the United States , such as an address or phone number.

To report an internet scam in the United States, you need to determine what type it is.

Report a scam to the State Consumer Protection Office

Reporting a scam to the State Consumer Protection Office is a good place to start. This institution provides the contact details (phone numbers and email addresses) of specific state departments, such as banking authorities, insurance regulators, and public service fees. It also provides district-level office contacts.

  1. Go to the SCPO website.

  2. Select the state or territory you are in.

  3. Identify the type of fraud to report.

Report a scam to federal agencies

If the scam is serious enough and extends beyond the borders of the state you are in, the report must go from state to federal level. If you find it appropriate, make a report to the Department of Justice, the Federal Trade Commission or the Internet Crime Complaint Center (links available below).

Report the theft of intellectual property to the Department of Justice

You can report all types of crimes on the Internet to the Department of Justice, including online hacking, identity theft, and fraudulent email messages. You should also report crimes related to intellectual property theft to the Department of Justice.

If someone has attempted to infringe on a copyright or counterfeit a trademark, the Department of Justice will direct you to the appropriate government agency and provide information on the operation of the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center.

Here’s how to find information for reporting intellectual property theft through the Department of Justice.

  1. Visit the Department of Justice website.

  2. Click Report a Crime in the Quick Links section and go to Computer and internet crime .

  3. Select Reporting Intellectual Property Crime from the list of options.

  4. Click Reporting Intellectual Property Crime again to view a list of contacts.

Report fraud and pyramid schemes to the United States Federal Trade Commission (FTC)

The Federal Trade Commission helps maintain a fair market for consumers. As an independent agency, the FTC’s primary mission is to enforce antitrust laws and promote consumer protection. To report fraud to the FTC, visit the Report Fraud website, click Report Now and follow the instructions to complete the report.

Report fraud to the FTC via the dedicated website, with easy-to-follow step-by-step instructions.

While the FTC cannot investigate individual cases, through this type of fraud reporting it can bring known scammers and cybercriminals to justice. By reporting all the scams you come across on the internet, you can make your contribution to the fight against cybercriminals.

Report e-commerce and online activities to the Better Business Bureau

The goal of the Better Business Bureau (BBB) ​​is to make online shopping and e-commerce ethical. To report an online shopping fraud or file an e-commerce scam complaint, scroll down on the BBB home page and click File a Complaint.

After a series of prompts, you can file a specific complaint or even get direct support for compensation. BBB takes consumer complaints seriously and has an average processing time of 30 days .

Reporting cases of economic espionage and cybercrime to the Internet Crime Complaint Center (ICCC)

The Internet Crime Complaint Center, also called IC3 or ICCC, is a branch of the FBI specifically charged with handling Internet crime. Start the complaint process by clicking File a Complaint on the ICCC home page.

Report a crime on the Internet to IC3 using the report form.

After confirming that you want to file a complaint about an internet scam, read the terms and conditions and start the process. Fill out the one-page form to submit your official report to the ICCC.

Report a scam to the FBI

Reporting a scam directly to the local FBI office should be reserved for cases involving national security threats and hate crime. All reports of scams and Internet fraud must be filed with the ICCC, the investigative branch of the FBI that deals with cybercrime.

How to report an internet scam in the UK

If you have been the victim of an internet scam in the UK, there are several ways to report it. You may need to contact a different institution depending on whether you have been a victim of phishing, counterfeit software, identity theft, online trading scams, or social engineering schemes.

Report a case of phishing

If the phishing attempt was via email, for example in the case of a tech support scam, first contact your Internet Service Provider (ISP). BT, Sky Broadband, Virgin Media and all other ISPs operating in the UK have a different approach to handling phishing emails.

As a secondary measure, or if the phishing attempt occurred by phone or text message, file a report with the National Cyber ​​Security Center. The NCSC requires phishing websites on the Internet to be reported using a specific scam reporting form. Forwards the messages related to the fraud attempt to the government’s suspicious email reporting service at report [at] phishing [dot] gov [dot] uk.

Knowing how to report a phishing call or a number associated with a scam can help government services find scammers more easily by tracking their activity through a mass report.

Report the distribution of counterfeit software

Counterfeit software, which includes pirated digital content such as TV shows, movies or sporting events, can be reported to the Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT) using the appropriate online form.

You can also report the scam to Action Fraud, the UK’s National Fraud and Cyber ​​Crime Reporting Center. The report can be made using the Action Fraud reporting form available on the home page or by calling 0300 123 2040.

Report counterfeit UK software to Action Fraud using this simple form.

Report identity theft

Depending on the severity level, report an identity theft to Action Fraud or the local police. Action Fraud allows you to report different types of Internet scams, including identity theft. Start reporting identity theft on the Action Fraud home page by indicating whether you are reporting the case as a victim or on behalf of someone else.

Report identity theft in the UK from the home page of the Action Fraud website.

You can submit your report as a guest or registered user. Guest users receive updates on their case via email or post, while registered users can choose from multiple options to stay up to date.

If your identity theft is serious or puts you in immediate danger, contact your local police department right away.

Report misuse of social media accounts

If your social media account has been hacked, report the incident directly to the specific platform. All social media sites have their own process for dealing with scams. Here are some of the help centers of the most popular social media sites:

  • Facebook help center

  • Instagram help center

  • TikTok Help Center

  • Snapchat support

  • Twitter Help Center

  • LinkedIn Help Center

Here’s an example of how to report a social media scam on Facebook:

  1. Open the Facebook Help Center and select Policies and Reports .

    Use the Facebook Help Center to try to regain access to a hacked account.
  2. Depending on the type of scam you have witnessed, select Report Abusive Content, Report a Privacy Infringement, or Fake or Hacked Accounts. For this example, we will select Fake Accounts or Victims of Hackers .

    The Facebook Help Center offers several options for compromised accounts or for reporting privacy violations.
  3. Choose the situation that best matches the case you want to report, for example “I think my Facebook account has been hacked or someone is using it without my permission”. A guided assistance tool will help you recover your account.

    Report a hacked Facebook account and regain access using the Facebook Assistant feature.

Report social engineering scams

Social engineering is a complex crime. It is best to contact your Internet Service Provider (ISP) and Action Fraud. Action Fraud also offers a dedicated reporting tool for social engineering cases specifically related to dating sites.

So, if you want to know how to avoid falling into a catfishing scam or another type of romantic scam, Action Fraud is the ideal partner for the prevention and reporting of this type of crime.

If social engineering is related to an online appointment, Action Fraud is the ideal place to file your report.

Report online trading scams

The first step in reporting online trading scams is to contact your Internet Service Provider (ISP). You can also contact the UK government’s suspicious email reporting service at report [at] phishing [dot] gov [dot] uk. National Trading Standards also has a dedicated scam team that can provide assistance and information on online trading scams.

Types of Internet Scams

There are tons of ways you can get ripped off or scammed online. Hackers can take control of your webcam to spy on you, and scammers can trick you into revealing sensitive information or visiting malicious websites. Here are the most common scams on the internet.


Just as a fisherman puts a bait into the water to lure fish, phishing scams disseminate bait across the Internet to hook potential victims. The decoy could be a spoofed email, a fictitious ad, or spoofed by an official institution. Once you take the bait by clicking on a malicious link or revealing personal information, you are trapped.

Counterfeit software

Scammers use hoax emails, pop-up windows, ads, or other scareware to advertise counterfeit software and fake software updates. Often the software is a fake antivirus, and if you follow the links, you risk being hacked or making your device vulnerable to exploits.

If you suspect that you have been the victim of a scam associated with counterfeit software, report it immediately. And only use reputable antivirus software from well-known vendors. For over 30 years, AVG AntiVirus Free has been protecting users from phishing attacks, ransomware and security exploits with award-winning threat detection.

Identity theft

Identity theft can result from a phishing attack and the consequences can last for years. This is why it is vital to know how to report a scam. This way, if a criminal steals personal information, such as PINs, credit card details, passwords and login credentials, he can be stopped before committing identity theft fraud.

Social media scams

A social media fraud is called a social media scam. Many criminals and scammers lurk behind games, quizzes and apps. Social media scams can also involve hackers logging into your account and tricking your friends into sending money or distributing phishing links. Find out which are the most successful Facebook scams so you know what to watch out for.

Social engineering

Social engineering is one of the most common techniques cybercriminals use to scam online users. Hackers use sneaky techniques to learn intimate details about your life. Then they use that information to lure you, possibly to the point of outright romantic scam. This breach of trust can be emotionally (and financially) damaging.

Online trading scams

By online trading scams we mean all those frauds that convince you to send, spend or invest money on a fraudulent trading platform or in the illusion of obtaining a return. Scammers promote fictitious online trading platforms, often advertising them on social media. Run a security check for all those suspicious websites that promise unrealistically high returns or quick money, especially for cryptocurrencies like bitcoin.

How can I get my money back after a scam?

Depending on the payment method and where the scam occurred from, you may or may not get your money back from a scammer. You will never be guaranteed to be reimbursed for your loss, but reporting an internet scam to the right institutions in the US or UK is the first step in getting your lost money back.

If you paid in cash and sent the money by post, there is a chance that the postal service will be able to intercept the shipment. Call the appropriate postal service at 1-877-876-2455 (US) or 0345-722-3355 (UK) for more information. If you have used an alternative courier service, please contact them immediately.

If you paid by payment card or PayPal , contact the company that issued the card or PayPal and report the fraudulent charge immediately. Request that the transaction be canceled or reversed.

If you paid by wire transfer or money transfer , please contact the bank to report the fraudulent transfer. Request the cancellation of the bank transfer and the re-credit of your money.

If the scammer made an unauthorized payment from your bank account , contact the bank to let them know that you have been the victim of an unauthorized debit or withdrawal. Ask for the transaction to be canceled and the money to be credited back to your account.

Stop scammers with a reputable antivirus

Internet scammers are lurking in every corner. But you have plenty of options to stay safe. Using AVG AntiVirus Free helps you stay away from hackers before they can reach you. Our anti-phishing protection blocks unsafe links and websites that require access to your personal information, and our 24/7 threat detection software keeps your device safe around the clock. Let AVG block and intercept scammers before they find you.

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