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Rhode Island launches cyber crime hotline

Rhode Island has launched the first statewide cybercrime support and recovery service. Residents who call 211 can now report cybercrimes like identity theft, financial scams and cyberstalking and get connected to resources to help them recover.

The new service is an expansion of existing 211 services that connect callers with support for elderly, children, disabled and non-English speakers and those who need help finding food, clothing and work, as well as assistance with physical and mental health issues and suicide prevention.  Rhode Island also has a helpline, a free 800 number residents can call for 24/7 support and advocacy for those impacted by crimes of violence.

Victims who call 211 are connected with trained operators who can assess the situation and put them in touch with the appropriate law enforcement agency or local, non-profit organizations that provide support services.

The support and recovery system is managed through a partnership between the Blackstone Valley Advocacy Center, United Way Rhode Island 211 and the Cybercrime Support Network. Funding for the public-private partnership was secured through a $282,600 federal Victims of Crime Act grant with the assistance of Rep.  Jim Langevin (D-R.I.), co-chair of the House Cybersecurity Caucus. The grant allowed call specialists to receive specialized training to assist Rhode Islanders who've been impacted by cybercrime and route complaints to the proper authorities.

In July, the program to support cybercrime victims through 211 services will expand to Grand Rapids, Mich., and Orlando, Fla., Kristin Judge, the CEO and president of the Cybercrime Support Network. wrote in a post on LinkedIn. She said the program expects to be in 10 states by next year and in all 50 states in three years.

The program plans to feed its data on cybercrimes to the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center, Judge said in the launch announcement. The partnership also plans to share the threat information with private-sector organizations and state and local governments.

About the Author

Susan Miller is executive editor at GCN.

Over a career spent in tech media, Miller has worked in editorial, print production and online, starting on the copy desk at IDG’s ComputerWorld, moving to print production for Federal Computer Week and later helping launch websites and email newsletter delivery for FCW. After a turn at Virginia’s Center for Innovative Technology, where she worked to promote technology-based economic development, she rejoined what was to become 1105 Media in 2004, eventually managing content and production for all the company's government-focused websites. Miller shifted back to editorial in 2012, when she began working with GCN.

Miller has a BA and MA from West Chester University and did Ph.D. work in English at the University of Delaware.

Connect with Susan at smiller@gcn.com or @sjaymiller.

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