PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Congressman Jim Langevin (D-RI) and local, state, and federal officials announced the launch of the nation’s first statewide cybercrime support and recovery hotline, which began taking calls Monday.
The hotline takes reports and offers resources to recover from identity theft, financial fraud, cyberstalking, cyberbullying and other cybercrimes.
The new support and recovery system will be managed through a partnership between the, , and the (BVAC). Langevin helped secure $282,600 in federal funding for the system through the U.S. Department of Justice’s Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) grant program.
“Victims of cybercrime often find themselves unsure of where to turn for help,” said Langevin, co-founder and co-chair of the Congressional Cybersecurity Caucus. “Thankfully, Rhode Island is leading the way to address this growing issue with the launch of the nation’s first statewide cybercrime hotline. This system will improve cybercrime victim services, increase access to recovery resources, and serve as model for the rest of the country. I was pleased to help secure the federal funding that made this project possible, and I commend the Cybercrime Support Network, United Way Rhode Island 2-1-1, and the Blackstone Valley Advocacy Center for their ongoing work on behalf of Rhode Island cybercrime victims.”
After calling the hotline, victims will be connected with trained operators who can assess the situation and place them in touch with organizations that can help. Cyber criminals can strike from any part of the globe, so law enforcement is not always best positioned to provide aid after a cyber incident.
In cases where a crime is confined to cyberspace – for example, in a case of ransomware or some other kind of computer virus – the operators will be able to point to information technology services that may be able to restore a victim’s computer or mobile phone. Victims of cyber bullying or stalking will be put in touch with governmental and nonprofit support groups who can provide counseling and other services. People who have had their identities stolen will be able to access free federal, state, and local resources to protect themselves from fraud and help recover any financial losses they may have incurred.
“Rhode Islanders, like individuals across the country, are falling victim to cybercrime. In many cases, victims do not know who to call for help. Embarrassment and confusion deter victims from reporting instances of cybercrime and online fraud, and in many cases they never receive assistance recovering or preventing further victimization,” said State Police Colonel James M. Manni.
“Every year, millions of Americans contact 2-1-1 for assistance with everything from food, housing, and transportation to help during a mental health crisis or natural disaster,” saidRachel Krausman, the 2-1-1 Senior Director for United Way Worldwide. “Our partnership with the Cybercrime Support Network will ensure that that list also includes resources for those cybercrime victims and their families. We are excited to see United Way Rhode Island leading the charge and to help scale this solution nationwide.”