How do I Report a Scam?

Keith Koons

The proper way to report a scam would ultimately depend on the situation in which the act is committed. Whenever the scam involves an actual crime, local law enforcement should be contacted as soon as possible. If the infraction involves a regional entity like the Internet or the local mail service, get in touch with a federal agency. There could also be instances where non-criminal actions could be considered a scam. To report a scam of this type, contact a personal attorney.

If the case is not considered an actual crime, victims wanting to report a scam would seek civil action in order to find justice.
If the case is not considered an actual crime, victims wanting to report a scam would seek civil action in order to find justice.

Since there are a wide variety of acts that could qualify as a scam, the first step would be to determine if an actual crime was committed. Under most regional laws, any time that a form of deception causes a person to receive benefit from the act, it constitutes a crime. It is also important to note that the gain does not have to be solely financial. A scam with criminal elements could also deal with social acceptance, unfair business practices, or intimidation methods as well.

Once a consumer realizes that a crime has been committed, he should immediately report the infraction to the local police. To report a scam in this fashion, the person will normally be interviewed to determine the basics of the crime. If the police feel that there is enough evidence to constitute an investigation, they will take a formal statement that describes the crime in its entirety. This statement can be written, recorded on audio tape, or captured using video equipment.

Some crimes would fall under a larger jurisdiction and the procedures would be a little different. To report a scam of this type, a person would have to call or visit a regional authority in order to give a statement. Once the facts are sorted out, there are normally certain forms that will have to be completed in order for an investigation to take place. Since several governing bodies may be involved in discovering what actually happened, there may be additional interviews before any action is taken.

If the case is not considered an actual crime, victims wanting to report a scam would seek civil action in order to find justice. This process would normally begin with giving a statement to an attorney, and if the legal representative agreed to represent the victim, then a contract would be signed. The lawyer would then file motions within a courtroom to begin the legal process. If the case could not be settled outside of a courthouse, then it may ultimately be left up to a judge or a jury to decide if a scam took place.

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Discussion Comments


Yea, I think most scams are via internet, we call them e-scams at my office. I work for an insurance company and we are told to be really careful about which emails and attachments we open.

Recently, we heard about a scam where an email was sent to a company appearing to be a response to their job vacancies. Well, the attachment didn't turn out to be a CV, but malware that hacked their system and actually transferred money out of the company to personal bank accounts. Even the sound of it is so complicated, I don't know how they manage to design these things. There are some really smart but ill intentioned people out there.

Our office assistant sent around a list of places to contact if we fall for any scam emails. One is the Internet Crime Complaint Center which actually works with the FBI, some others are the Federal Trade Commission, the United States Department of Justice and Attorney General. Reporting scams to as many agencies as possible is supposed to help agencies keep track and hopefully prosecute them.


When I hear about scams, I immediately think of these emails I get about how I can make money if I provide someone in Africa my personal information. It's so obvious that it is a scam.

I think when it first started to show up though, people were not as internet savvy and didn't realize how giving information away could be so dangerous. I had heard of many people that fell for these emails.

Now, our email providers generally separate such email for us. Or you can click something called "report spam" and you will never see emails from that sender again. But I don't know if those emails are actually reported to any law enforcement agencies.

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