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If you are affected by an online crime the consequences can vary greatly depending on both the type and scale of the crime … and you, the victim.

It has often been referred to as ‘victimless’ crime, but anybody who has been defrauded or abused online will tell you that nothing could be further from the truth.

If the crime is a fraud, you may lose anything from a few pounds to a substantial sum of money … even your life savings. You could also suffer considerable distress, especially in the case of larger losses.

Online abuse can also be highly distressing – again varying depending on the nature of the abuse and how equipped you are to deal with it.

Why you should always report online crime

As with any type of crime, online crime should always be reported, for several reasons:

For your protection

Reporting any online crime as soon as you find out you’ve been a victim (whether that’s straight away or after a period of time) will increase the chance of recovering your money, or in the case of identity theft, mitigating the effects. Whether financial/identity theft or abuse, immediate reporting could also help in tracking down and apprehending the perpetrator.

To protect other people

We’d guess that you wouldn’t like to think that others will suffer a similar experience to yours. Reporting any online crime – however insignificant it may seem – could help the police or other agencies to disrupt and shut down the ways that the perpetrator operates and communicates, reducing the chance of others becoming victims.

To prevent or hinder more sinister crimes

Financial crime can pay for lavish lifestyles for cybercriminals, but is also frequently used as a way to fund more sinister activities such as terrorism or people trafficking. Detecting and apprehending criminals and closing down their activities will help disrupt these crimes.

To build a bigger picture

Reporting online crime helps the police and other law enforcement agencies to link your experience to similar reported incidents – building a picture of threats and trends and helping allocate resources to fight them more effectively.

Whom should you report online crime to?

Financial fraud

Report it to Action Fraud at or by calling 0300 123 2040 or if in Scotland to Police Scotland by calling 101. If you report fraud to a police force, you will be asked to make your report direct to Action Fraud, with the exception of Police Scotland. If the fraud has been committed via or in the name of a platform such as a dating, holiday booking or letting website or app, report it to the platform you know to be authentic.

Identity fraud

If identity fraud has involved your online banking, credit/debit cards or cheques, report it to your bank, who will investigate the case and report any criminal activity to law enforcement. Any other kind of identity fraud should be reported to the relevant organisation or website where it was perpetrated, who may also advise you to contact the appropriate law enforcement organisation.


Report any kind of abuse to the social media network or operator of the forum, game or chat service on which it appears. Many such services have a ‘report abuse’ button. If the abuse contains hate content, incites radicalisation or other illegal activity or threatens physical harm, report it to the police.

Depending on the nature of the crime and how you’ve been affected by it, you may want to contact Victim Support at or by calling 0808 1689111 (England and Wales) or or by calling 0800 160 1985. You can contact either organisation regardless of how long ago the crime happened.