What to Do if You Get Ripped Off Online: Report Fraud to the Proper Agency
Most people and businesses on the web are friendly and honest, but many are dishonest and fraudulent. Did you pay for a product or service and didn’t receive it, or it didn’t turn out to be what you expected? Did you provide a product or service and didn’t get paid?
In this article, we’ll provide a step-by-step method to force dishonest individuals or businesses on the internet to deal with you fairly, or at least how to cause them so much pain that they wish they had.
- Step 1. Gather as much information about the dishonest party as you can. Get names, addresses and phone numbers. Dishonest parties like to make themselves scarce.
- Step 2. Put your complaint in writing. Be accurate and honest. Don’t exaggerate or make false accusations. Also, think of any possible excuses the dishonest party might use, and prepare counter arguments.
Step 3. Inform the dishonest party that you intend to take action against them if they do not solve the problem equitably and honestly, and that that action will include charges of criminal fraud. Give them a chance to figure out that it would be much easier for them to just be honest. Contact them several times and give them ample time to resolve the problem, because after this things really get nasty.
Step 4. Go to the Internet Fraud Complaint Center (IFCC) website www.ifccfbi.gov/ and click on the “File a Complaint” link to fill out an online form. The Internet Fraud Complaint Center (IFCC) is a partnership between the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the National White Collar Crime Center (NW3C). IFCC provides a convenient and easy-to-use reporting mechanism that alerts authorities of a suspected criminal or civil violation.
Step 5. Go to the Internet Fraud Watch website www.fraud.org and click on the “Online complaint form” link. The Internet Fraud Watch was created by the National Consumers League, the oldest nonprofit consumer organization in the United States.
Step 6. Go to the Better Business Bureau Online website.www.bbbonline.org/. BBBOnLine is the arm of the Better Business Bureau that specifically deals with web sites. The BBB contacts the business involved in the dispute to see if they want to work it out amicably. When a company has a large file of complaints at the BBB, it definitely cuts into their business.
Step 7. Use a search engine to find out how to contact the Attorney General’s Office of the state in which the dishonest party operates. Then file a complaint. If your complaint involves fraud, this could result in criminal charges against them.
Step 8. Go to the Allwhois website www.allwhois.com and look up the dishonest party’s domain name. This might give you some information about the dishonest party and who is providing them with web hosting. Inform the company providing them with web hosting that if they continue to provide the dishonest party with web service, their company may be charged as an accomplice in a criminal action.
Step 9. Sometimes a company has their own servers and do not use a web hosting service. Go to the Internet Corporation For Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) website. www.icann.org/general/contact.htm ICANN is the organization that has responsibility for Internet address space allocation. Contact them to find out how to get the dishonest party off the web.
Step 10. If the dishonest party is still operating and you learn who their other customers or advertisers are, contact those customers or advertisers and notify them of your problem. Inform them that they have now been notified and if they continue to associate with and support the dishonest party, they may be charged as an accomplice in a criminal action.
Step 11. Use a search engine to find message boards and discussion forums that might be interested in your problem. You might find that many other individuals have been ripped off by the same company and you may be able to initiate a class action lawsuit or at least learn how others are dealing with the problem.
Some of these steps are pretty nasty. How many of these steps you actually take depends upon how mad you are and how much time you want to dedicate to extracting revenge. In your attempts to punish the dishonest party, it is very important to stick with the facts. Don’t exaggerate or make false accusations. If you exaggerate, they could turn around and file a lawsuit against you for false advertising against them, or for character defamation.
Keep your actions focused on solving the actual problem. If you begin contacting the dishonest party or other parties related to them with information or accusations not related to the actual problem, you could be charged with harassment. However, you cannot be charged with harassment for frequently contacting a party in an effort to get a product or service that you paid for and didn’t receive, or to get paid for a product or service that you have provided.
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