How to Report Fraud
If you’ve been the victim of fraud, you’re probably feeling pretty distressed and violated. In that state, it’s hard to find out what the next steps are, and how you can prevent this fraud from happening to somebody else. Well, we’ve compiled the information of local, state, and federal agencies for you to contact based on the type of fraud you’ve experienced. Most agencies offer help through phone lines and website forms, so you can choose your method of communication.
How to Report Fraud
Use this chart to contact the appropriate agency and report your fraud, and read on below to learn about reporting different types of fraud.
|Types of fraud||Agency||Phone number||URL||Mailing address|
|All||State consumer protection office||N/A||N/A||https://www.usa.gov/state-consumer||N/A|
|Bankruptcy fraud||United States Department of Justice (DOJ), Trustee Program||[email protected]||N/A||https://www.justice.gov/ust/us-trustee-regions-and-offices||ATTN: Office of Criminal Enforcement
George C. Young Federal Building and Courthouse
400 W Washington St., Suite 1100,
Orlando, FL 32801
|Commodities and investment fraud||DOJ||N/A||866-366-2382||www.cftc.gov/tiporcomplaint||N/A|
|Consumer fraud, identity theft||Federal Trade Commission (FTC)||N/A||1-877-382-4357||https://reportfraud.ftc.gov/#/?pid=A||N/A|
|Credit card or bank account fraud||Experian (will alert TransUnion and Equifax)||N/A||888-397-3742||www.experian.com/help||N/A|
|Disaster and emergency scams||National Center for Disaster Fraud||[email protected]||866-720-5721||N/A||N/A|
|Fake websites, emails, malware, other internet scams||Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3)||N/A||N/A||https://complaint.ic3.gov/default.aspx||N/A|
|Healthcare, Medicare, or Medicaid fraud||Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)||N/A||800-447-8477||https://tips.oig.hhs.gov/||N/A|
|Identity theft, sex offender registry fraud||FTC||N/A||877-438-4338||https://identitytheft.gov/||N/A|
|Internet fraud, lottery or sweepstakes internet fraud||IC3||N/A||N/A||https://complaint.ic3.gov/default.aspx||N/A|
|IRS impersonation and scams||Internal Revenue Service (IRS)||[email protected]||800-366-4484||https://www.treasury.gov/tigta/contact_report_scam.shtml||N/A|
|Mail fraud, lottery and sweepstakes fraud||United States Postal Service (USPS)||N/A||N/A||https://ehome.uspis.gov/fcsexternal/default.aspx||N/A|
|Mass marketing and telemarketing fraud||FTC||N/A||877-382-4357||https://reportfraud.ftc.gov/#/?pid=A||N/A|
|Mortgage fraud||Housing and Urban Development Office of the Inspector General||[email protected]||800-347-3735||N/A||HUD OIG Hotline (GFI), 451 7th St., SW, Washington, D.C. 20410|
|Mortgage fraud, loan scams||Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)||N/A||800-225-5324||https://www.fbi.gov/contact-us||N/A|
|Mortgage fraud, loan scams||FTC||N/A||877-382-4357||https://reportfraud.ftc.gov/#/?pid=A||N/A|
|Phone, email, computer support, impostor, fake checks, offers to save money, student loans and scholarships, prizes, grants, or sweepstakes scams||FTC||N/A||877-382-4357||https://reportfraud.ftc.gov/#/?pid=A||N/A|
|Securities fraud||U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Center for Complaints and Enforcement Tips||N/A||800-732-0330||www.sec.gov/complaints.html||N/A|
|Social Security scams||IRS||N/A||800-269-0271||https://secure.ssa.gov/ipff/home||N/A|
|State tax fraud||State’s department of revenue||N/A||N/A||https://www.irs.gov/businesses/small-businesses-self-employed/state-government-websites||N/A|
Reporting Fraud: Special Considerations
While reporting most types of fraud is straightforward, there is some other information you need to know.
- Local government: If you lost money or possessions, report the fraud to the local police as well as your state’s consumer protection office.1
- Federal government: While reporting fraud to the federal government will help it track patterns on a national level, don’t expect a follow-up or any recovery of lost funds.
- Third parties: Aside from government agencies, there are various nonprofit organizations that help fraud victims recover funds or remove fraudulent charges. If you’ve suffered a scam with an online seller or payment transfer system, contact the company’s fraud department directly.
- IRS or SSA scams: Some signs that someone is pretending to be the Social Security Administration or the IRS are robocalls, demands for payments, threats of suspending your Social Security number (SSN) or canceling your benefits, and threats of arrests or lawsuits. If you’ve lost your Social Security card, contact one of the three credit bureaus to place a fraud alert.
- Tax-related identity theft: This occurs when someone uses your SSN on a tax refund.
- Phone and email IRS scams: Phone IRS scams mean that someone threatens you over phone or email, pretending to be from the IRS. Note that any legitimate emails from the IRS end in “irs.gov.”
- Consumer fraud and identity theft: Identity theft is a pervasive problem in the U.S., but if you’re wondering what identity theft is, you’re not alone. Identity theft is when someone steals another person’s personally identifiable information (PII) to open new bank accounts, take out loans, file tax returns, etc.
- Healthcare, Medicare, and Medicaid fraud: While the HHS investigates potential cases of false or fraudulent Medicare and Medicaid claims as well as medical identity thefts of Medicare or Medicaid recipients, it doesn’t cover Social Security or disability fraud, nor lost or stolen Medicare cards.2
How to Prevent Fraud
Unfortunately, there’s no one-stop shop for preventing fraud. While you can optimize your devices for fraud prevention, ultimately, you’ll need to perform some best practices on a regular basis:
- Block unwanted calls and texts. Personally, silencing unknown callers was one of our greatest life decisions. Aside from greatly reducing the number of telemarketing calls we get on a daily basis, it also prevents us from falling for phone scams, which can be quite convincing. To silence unknown callers on iOS devices:
- Enter your phone or tablet’s Settings.
- Click on Phone.
- Turn Silence Unknown Callers to on.3
To filter iMessages from unknown senders on iOS devices:
- Go into Settings.
- Click Messages.
- Turn Filter Unknown Senders on.4
To block unknown callers on Android devices:
- Click on Phone.
- Click on More.
- Click Settings.
- Select Caller ID & Spam.
- Turn on Caller ID & Spam Off.5
To block unknown text messages on Androids:
- Open the Voice app.
- Click the Menu icon on the top left corner.
- Click Settings.
- Scroll down to Security.
- Turn Filter Spam on.6
- Only give your PII when necessary. Limit app permissions and cookies so that they can’t steal your PII for targeted advertisements, which could lead to fraud if the information is exposed in a data breach.
- Don’t respond to “urgent” telemarketing calls. If any telemarketing calls manage to get through your filters, don’t take messages that say you need to do something urgently seriously. This is a sales tactic meant to give you anxiety and lessen your reasoning skills so you’ll make hasty decisions.
- Put passcodes on devices. So you lost your iPhone at the big football game last weekend, and you’re worried people are going to find your SSN and steal your identity. Just how do you protect devices’ data after they’re lost? Just like in football, the best defense is a good offense, and for mobile devices, that means setting up a passcode. This means that someone will need to enter either a numerical code or biometrics like a fingerprint or Face ID to access your phone. These advanced authentication methods prevent unauthorized access, rendering your lost iPhone useless to everyone but you.For iOS devices with Face ID:
- Go into Settings.
- Click Face ID & Passcode.
- Toggle Passcode On.7
For iOS devices with Touch ID only:
- Enter Settings.
- Click Touch ID & Passcode.
- Toggle Turn On Passcode on.
For Android devices:
- Enter your Android’s Settings.
- Click Security.
- Click Screen Lock.7
- Turn on Screen Lock.8
How to Protect Kids From Fraud
Child identity theft is a whole different ballgame. Stealing kids’ PII is a popular choice, as most of them won’t realize their identities were stolen until they’re adults trying to open up their first bank accounts. But parents can have a major influence on whether their childrens’ identities are stolen, so again, it’s best to take some preventative measures.
- Be careful what you share on social media. Sure, that picture of your kid on his first day of school was cute, but he was wearing his school uniform and you shared it with 600 of your friends. Although every parent likes to brag about how adorable their little ones are, make sure you’re not revealing any personal information such as their full names, birthdays, addresses, or schools. Also, go through your Facebook “friends” with a fine-toothed comb. Let’s be honest: They can’t all be that important.
Tip: Set your social media accounts so that only your friends can see your content, not friends of friends or anyone else on the platform.
- Check credit reports after age 16. When your kid turns 16, right after you hand them the car keys, you should check their credit reports from the three major bureaus. Credit reports can be great indicators of identity theft. If you get sick of checking manually, why not get an identity theft protection service with credit monitoring? Better yet, get an identity theft protection service for families, as they often have discounts.
- Only give out PII when necessary. From school forms to directories, you’re asked for your child’s PII dozens of times a month, but make sure you’re only giving it out when it’s absolutely necessary.
- Check educational programs’ policies. That ballet class your kid attends every Wednesday sure is cute, but are they posting pictures of your child in a tutu online? Be aware of what’s being posted about your child online, especially if it’s not by you.
How to Protect Your Computer From Fraud
Now that we’ve covered protection for you and your family, let’s talk about protecting your actual devices and making them safeguards against fraud.
- Use VPNs. VPNs hide your browsing history; VPNs also change your IP address, which makes you much less susceptible to hacking and fraud from the theft of your PII. Learn more in our VPN guide.
- Use identity theft protection. There is software available that will monitor criminal and financial areas for your PII. Check out the best identity theft protection services with fraud detection.
- Delete your personal information from Google. Google yourself. Are you surprised at how much of your PII comes up? Learn how to delete your personal information from Google, either manually or through an automated service like DeleteMe.
- Make social media accounts private. While we all appreciate the odd like coming in from a stranger, it’s safest to make your social media accounts private. That way, people cannot use your PII for fraudulent purposes.
- Use strong passwords. A general digital security best practice is to use secure passwords. That way, hackers can’t enter your accounts easily and steal your PII.
- Use authentication. Two- or multi-factor authentication is another way to prevent unauthorized access to your accounts. In addition to your login credentials, you’ll enter a passcode or use biometrics like face or fingerprint ID to log in.
- Use antivirus software. Finally, use antivirus software to prevent things like spyware from taking root on your devices.
Note: While Windows, Androids, and Macs need antivirus software, iPhones and iPads do not need antivirus.
Finding out that you’re a victim of fraud is stressful, but hopefully this guide will show you how to take back your information and regain control of your life. It’s also important to take preventative measures on a daily basis, such as using VPNs, identity theft protection services, and antivirus software. Want more information? We’ve answered some fraud-related FAQs below.
Frequently Asked Questions
These are the questions about fraud that we get most often.
How do I report a website for scamming?
To report a website for scamming, file a complaint with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center on its website.
How can you report a phone number?
To report a phone scam, contact the FTC either on their website or by calling 1-877-382-4357.
How do I report a scammer on Facebook?
How to report a scammer on Facebook depends on the type of content the scam was.
- Ad scam: Click on the three dots next to the ad that you believe is a scam. Click Report Ad and follow the instructions.
- Profile scam: Go to the profile you believe is fraudulent. Click the dash symbol on the right and choose either Find Support or Report Profile. Click on the option that you believe describes how the page violates Facebook’s Community Standards and click Next. Then, submit a report and click Done. We also recommend unfriending or blocking this profile.
- Email scam: Forward the email to [email protected].
What is the FTC’s number for spam texts?
The FTC’s number for spam texts is 1-877-382-4357.
USA.gov. (2021). State Consumer Protection Offices.
US Department of Health and Human Services. (2021). Before You Submit a Complaint.
Apple. (2021). Turn on Silence Unknown Callers.
Apple. (2021). Block, filter, and report messages on iPhone.
Google. (2021). Use caller ID & spam protection.
Google. (2021). Block calls and messages or mark as spam.
Apple. (2021). Set a passcode on iPhone.
Google. (2021). Set screen lock on an Android device.