The Federal Trade Commission, the government’s fraud fighting agency, received 3.2 million consumer complaints last year, dealing with everything from identity theft to online shopping problems.

“Every time you file a report with the FTC, you are helping us build cases, stop scammers, and also alert others about current trends,” said Rosario Mendez, an FTC staff attorney.

The FTC just launched a new website, ReportFraud.ftc.gov, which makes it quicker and easier to report scams, fraud, or bad business practices.

Fill out the complaint form, and you’ll get a tracking number that can be used to update your report if something changes. The site also provides the next steps you should take. You’ll receive this advice via email if you provide your address.

“This is specific information that will help you better understand what you can do to deal with the problem you’re reporting,” said Charles Harwood, director of the FTC’s Northwest regional office in Seattle.

For example, submit a report that you were contacted by a scammer pretending to offer tech support, and you will get a list of next steps to take:

  • Update your computer’s security software.
  • Run a scan and delete anything it identifies as a problem.
  • If you shared any passwords, change your password right away. Create new passwords that are strong.
  • If you think there’s a problem with your computer, find a computer technician you can trust. Try finding someone via your computer manufacturer’s website or visit a store that sells computer equipment and offers technical support in person.

This video shows how to use ReportFraud.ftc.gov.

The FTC cannot respond to each report individually, and it can't take action on behalf of individual consumers, but filing a report will help in the fight against fraud.

“We would love to hear from people, both the FTC and the 3,000 other law enforcement agencies that use our information,” Harwood said. “By doing this, you are helping protect your community from fraud.”

 




Contributing editor Herb Weisbaum (“The ConsumerMan”) is an Emmy award-winning broadcaster and one of America's top consumer experts. He is also the consumer reporter for KOMO radio in Seattle. You can also find him on Facebook, Twitter, and at ConsumerMan.com.