GRAND RAPIDS—Officials from the Heart of West Michigan United Way and the Ann Arbor-based Cybercrime Support Network were joined by local and state law enforcement and government officials Tuesday to announce the launch of Michigan’s first cybercrime support and recovery hotline.
The new system allows Kent County residents to dial 2-1-1 to report and find resources to recover from identity theft, financial fraud, cyberstalking, cyberbullying and other cybercrimes.
“We are proud to be a national leader in the fight against cybercrime,” Michigan Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist said at the event. “As cybercriminals are becoming more sophisticated, it’s never been more important to have a place where Michiganders can turn to for help and resources to recover from these experiences. We want Michigan to be a safe and secure home of opportunity, and the Cybercrime Support Network will help us do that.”
Added United Way president and CEO Michelle Van Dyke: “Becoming a victim of cybercrime, whether it’s financial fraud, identity theft, or online bullying or stalking, can be a painful, bewildering experience. Knowing where to turn should be as simple and straightforward as possible. That’s why our 2-1-1 team is joining this cybersecurity partnership, to give people one number they can call and know they’ll be able to speak with someone who cares and who can help them connect with the right resources.”
Upon calling the hotline, victims will be connected with trained call specialists who can assess the situation and place them in touch with organizations that can help. This program will complement and work in collaboration with law enforcement to improve service together.
“As community members continue to fall victim to cybercrime, local police departments are challenged with having the time and expertise to investigate crimes that are often perpetrated by people outside of our jurisdiction,” said Peter McWatters, Grand Rapids Police Department acting deputy chief. “The Cybercrime Initiative takes some of the burden off of local law enforcement and provides a well thought out and efficient path to addressing cybercrime.”
Added Kent County Sheriff Michelle LaJove-Young: “Cybercrimes are an emerging and evolving type of crime that often leaves victims stranded without clear direction on where to find help. Even within law enforcement, not all agencies have the same level of resources to handle these often-complex complaints. Thanks to the Cybercrime Support Network, competent and consistent help is only a phone call away.”
The need to address cybercrime is great. In 2018 alone, over 350,000 complaints from individuals and small businesses were filed with the FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center for monetary losses of more than $2.7 billion. Experts estimate that these figures represent only a small fraction of the cybercrime that actually occurs.
“This national program started with a team of volunteers in Michigan dedicated to serving victims,” said Cybercrime Support Network founder and CEO Kristin Judge. “After working together for four years, it is wonderful to launch the program in Kent County. I am grateful to all those early supporters of our effort This has been a true collaboration with federal, state and local law enforcement and our community partners at Michigan 2-1-1 and Heart of West Michigan United Way. Together, we will help thousands of Michigan residents report and recover from cybercrime.”
After the program is established in Kent County, it will expand later in 2019 and early 2020 to Michigan residents in Antrim, Benzie, Grand Traverse, Ionia, Kalkaska, Lake, Leelanau, Mason, Mecosta, Montcalm, Newaygo, Oceana, and Osceola counties.
Cybercrime Support Network partners include Craig Newmark Philanthropies, Google, KnowBe4, Nord VPN, AT&T, and Comcast. CSN can continue to support victims through FraudSupport.org, which provides assistance to both individual and small business cybercrime victims. For more information, please visit: Cybercrimesupport.org