Who to call? : Digital Deviants Edition

Who to call? : Digital Deviants Edition

Have you heard that all McDonald’s restaurants are closing tomorrow? Or that your favorite celebrity died unexpectedly? And how about sending money to a pen pal, the Saudi prince sworn will you get your money back and more?

Fake news, disinformation, phishing, fraudulent emails, and account takeovers are commonplace in the digital age. Here’s who to call when you or someone you love falls victim.

Who should I call when I see fake news on Facebook?

Following the influx of fake news surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, the World Health Organization (WHO) has launched a dedicated webpage to “stop the spread” of misinformation and disinformation.

The web page, www.who.intdirects users to pages explaining how to report information they believe to be false on Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, X, WhatsApp and LinkedIn.

Additionally, the webpage also offered an interactive game called “Go Viral!”, a tool created to help protect users from misinformation.

Unlike scams, identity theft, and fraud, creating or encouraging the spread of false news is rarely punished. Defamation is the most common threat against companies that publish false information, but to take legal action, the information must be about you and damage your reputation.

According to WHO, The best way to deal with fake news on your timeline is to report it and never share it. By reposting, quoting, tweeting or commenting on fake news, the cycle perpetuates itself and the news continues to spread.

a warning against dangerous spam
(Photo/Getty Images)

When should I report an internet crime?

“Cybercrime” is a vague term that can mean many things. According to the FBI, which has its own dedicated cybercrime unit, cybercrimes can include “prepayment schemes, non-delivery of goods or services, computer hacking, or the creation of employment or business opportunities.”

If you need to report an internet crime for yourself or someone you know, visit www.ic3.gov/Home/FileComplaint. The following information will be required at the time of claim:

  • Name, address, telephone number and email address of the victim.
    • This information will be communicated to you if you are the victim or if someone else is the victim if you are filing a complaint on behalf of a third party.
  • Financial transaction information (e.g. account information, transaction date and amount, who received the money).
  • Subject’s name, address, telephone, email, website and IP address.
    • The subject is the person/entity who allegedly committed the crime on the Internet.
  • Specific details of how you or a third party were harmed.
  • Email header(s).
  • Any other relevant information necessary to support your complaint.

The FBI also advises that any evidence relating to the crime, such as canceled checks, wire transfer receipts or conversation transcripts, be printed and stored.

When my account is hacked or someone impersonates me online?

Identity theft, whether online or in person, is a serious crime. The Indiana State Police advise citizens to take these steps if they believe they are a victim:

  1. Call and place a fraud alert with the following credit bureaus:
  2. Equifax (800)-525-6285.
  3. Experian (888)-397-3742.
  4. Trans Union (800)-680-7289.
  5. Call out and close accounts that have been tampered with or created without your permission.
  6. Visit www.identitytheft.gov and file a complaint for identity theftAfter submission, print a copy and file it with the police.
  7. File a police report. Be sure to attach the printed version of the form you completed and obtain a copy of the final report for your records.

In addition, Consumers can report fraud through the FTC website at report fraud.ftc.gov. Common issues to report include business identity theft, online shopping scams, lotteries, and debt scams. Scams such as banking, real estate and romance scams can be reported through usa.gov.

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Contact editor Hanna Rauworth at 317-762-7854 or follow her on Instagram at @hanna.rauworth.