Since 2000, the Internet Crime Complaint Center has been receiving complaints about everything from action fraud to stolen identities. Last week, it received its one millionth complaint. The center, also called IC3 is run by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation and the National While Collar Crime Center. It passes information on to law enforcement agencies and keeps track of trends in cyber crime. Half of a million complaints have been sent to federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies representing $650 million in losses.

In the beginning, the complaints coming in were smaller, non-delivery auction fraud from items purchased online. Since then, more complex crimes have been coming through like identity theft. Still, auction fraud remains the most complained crime with nearly half of the complaints received last year at 44.9%. Non-delivered merchandise or payment made up 19% of the complaints. Finally, check fraud made up 4.9% of complaints. Credit and debit card fraud, computer fraud, confidence fraud, and financial institutions fraud were the other top categories of complaints referred to law enforcement agencies last year.

In seeing the high numbers of scams conducted online, online users should take precautions to make sure they do not fall victim to the same crimes. Ways you can avoid internet auction fraud include learning as much as you can from a seller, find out the website or company’s policy if a problem occurs, ask the seller when delivery can be expected, and examine feedback on the seller. To avoid non-delivery of merchandise, purchase from proven reputable sources, obtain a physical address and phone number, check the Better Business Bureau from the seller’s area, be cautious when responding to special offers, inquire about returns and warranties, and use a credit card in case you need to dispute the charges if something goes wrong.

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