It is no surprise that cybercrime continues to rise. What remains confusing is where do victims go to get help? One can always report these crimes to the FBI. Specifically, Americans can contact the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center. However, the FBI receives so many reports each year that they are limited to focus on the larger crimes. And there is a hesitation when calling local police because the trend is to refer the victim back to the FBI. That is now changing.

When turning to the police for help with cybercrime related incidents individuals feel ignored and the issue remains unresolved. This is not at the fault of the police. Often they themselves are limited in resources and the ability to research and solve cyber-related crimes. The misconception that these crimes are technical and not a local incident keeps officials from providing proper assistance. With the continued rise of cybercrime in digital, everyday life, local police are exploring ways to help victims.

The New York Police Department is experimenting with ways to interview victims of cybercrime and to properly ask questions in order to document technical details. This information can then be turned over to detectives who have enough information to properly investigate these crimes further. For the NYPD, they are using an experimental mobile app while interviewing victims. The app walks the officer through the interview process and provides questions to ask the victims. This process gives individuals a chance to connect with local officials and provide proper insight into their recent incident.

The NYPD is not focused on the technical issues related to cybercrime. However, they are focusing their efforts on information to connect cybercriminals to the technology that was used. Ultimately providing reassurance to victims and solutions. When dealing with cybercrime the more details provided in the beginning give detectives more insight and more opportunity to solve the crime. Officers who are trained properly will develop an understanding of cybersecurity and enhance the investigation process. As officers use new interview techniques they will change the misconception that cybercrime is only for the FBI to solve.

For the NYPD, this is still in its early stages. The program is designed to educate the officers and detectives who will continue to update the program to better support the community. The pilot program looks at the existing interview process and notes what questions or details the officer did not obtain. They are also discovering that these crimes are not always high level or global incidents but are local transactional scams.

For example, through this process officers can learn that one individual who paid money to a false charity was a victim because of personal information that was posted through a local organization’s website. One of the more popular scams is searching church websites for PDFs and newsletters that often contain a victim’s phone number, home address, and email. Criminals will use this information to contact the individual and claim that they are with their church or other organization and solicit these individuals for “donations” or other malicious information. Other crimes link victims to malicious online transactions. For example, selling a device with personal information such as images and the anonymous buyer holding the images for ransom.

Educating today’s victims will help avoid recurring crimes in the area. However, police, as well as security professionals, strongly encourage everyone to use common sense and never provide any information over the phone or online without first verifying the source. In addition to this, erasing personal information from old devices that you no longer use will avoid the stress of allowing this information to fall into the wrong hands. Would you sell a used car to someone before emptying the trunk or glove compartment?