INTERNET FRAUD WATCH FACTS Internet Fraud Watch is a project of the National Consumers League, America's pioneer consumer advocacy organization. IFW is designed to help consumers distinguish between legitimate and fraudulent promotions in cyberspace and to route reports of suspected fraud to law enforcement agencies. To date there have been 5 million "hits" to the current www.fraud.org web site. The Internet Fraud Watch www.fraud.org/ifw.htm section gives specific tips on how to avoid fraud in cyberspace. The League's National Fraud Information Center site (www.fraud.org) also provides consumers with information on avoiding telemarketing fraud. More than 75,000 visit the NFIC web site each week. Between 1,500 and 2,000 consumers request information and advice each week via e-mail about Internet fraud, an increase from the 20 per day when Internet Fraud Watch was first launched in March 1996. A portion of those consumers contacting us actually submit complaints, and that number varies each week. (Note: The e-mails are not all about Internet fraud, though most are; some relate to telemarketing and other miscellaneous issues. Most e-mails are from people simply asking for advice -- not victims.) Consumers report losses between $10 and $25,000. More than 60 percent of Internet fraud victims pay by check, cash, or money orders, and 19 percent pay by credit card. Other means of payment include telephone bills, bank account debits, and wire transfers. A consumer may make Internet and on-line fraud reports via an on-line reporting form on the IFW pages on the NFIC web site or by calling the NFIC toll-free number at (800) 876-7060. Internet Fraud Watch prevents on-line and Internet fraud by helping people recognize possible scams. The most common signs of fraud on the Internet are incredibly low prices, extravagant promises of profits, guarantees of credit regardless of bad credit histories, or prizes that require payment to obtain. IFW also assists victims by relaying their reports to the right agencies. Typically, consumers are in one state and the cybercrooks are in others, or even other countries. Also, multiple agencies may have jurisdiction. Internet Fraud Watch uses the reports to alert agencies to emerging on-line and Internet scams and helps them identify cybercrooks and their victims. Reports of suspected Internet and on-line fraud by consumers are transmitted daily to more than 160 law enforcement agencies in the United States and Canada, including the Federal Trade Commission, state Attorneys General, and local police departments. The National Fraud Information Center web site features links to government agencies in the United States, Canada and other countries; self-regulatory bodies; nonprofit organizations; and other resources. NFIC gets 300-350 calls daily to the 800 hotline about telemarketing and Internet issues.
The National Consumers League launched Internet Fraud Watch in March 1996 with initial funding from MasterCard International. Bell Atlantic, Direct Selling Association, MCI Telecommunications, and NationsBank have also provided support for IFW.