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Rhode Island Is First State to Launch Cybercrime Hotline

Rhode Island residents now have a new way to report cybercrime: by calling 211.

Credit: Chainarong06/Shutterstock

(Image credit: Chainarong06/Shutterstock)

Rep. Jim Langevin, D-Rhode Island, the United Way of Rhode Island, the Cybercrime Support Network, the Blackstone Valley Advocacy Center and the Rhode Island State Police unveiled the hotline today (May 13) at an event in the state. The hotline is partly supported by $282,000 in federal funds that Langevin helped obtain.

Callers will get an operator who will "assess the situation" and forward callers to police or to support organizations, according to the Associated Press, the official hotline website and a press release put out by Langevin's office.

The hotline may seem gimmicky, but it makes more sense than current U.S. cybercrime-reporting guidelines, which often urge victims to file reports with their local police or sheriff's departments even if the crime originated half a world away. It's the first cybercrime hotline in the nation.

However, it's not clear exactly how the hotline will define "cybercrime." That would presumably cover email-based malware and online phishing scams, but maybe not robocall scammers claiming your Social Security number has been suspended. Even though those scammers use internet-based phone services, their victims don't need to go online to be swindled.