July 23, 2019
Heart of West Michigan United Way and the Cybercrime Support Network were joined by Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist and state and local law enforcement officials on Tuesday, July 23, 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. 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,” Gilchrist said. “We want Michigan to be a safe and secure home of opportunity, and the Cybercrime Support Network will help us do that.”
“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,” said Michelle Van Dyke, president and CEO of Heart of West Michigan United Way. “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. Cybercriminals can strike from any part of the globe, posing a challenge to law enforcement in providing aid after a cyber incident. This program will complement and work in collaboration with law enforcement to improve service together.
“It is exciting to be involved in supporting a program that addresses a specific need in our community. 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 Acting Deputy Chief Peter McWatters of the Grand Rapids Police Department. “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.”
“Cybercrimes are an emerging and evolving type of crime that often leaves victims stranded without clear direction on where to find help,” said Sheriff Michelle LaJoye-Young of Kent County. “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 (IC3) for monetary losses of over $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. 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,” said Kristin Judge, founder and CEO of CSN. “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.”
“It’s great to see the collaborative efforts of CSN, 2-1-1, dispatch centers, and law enforcement, to further enhance the state's capabilities by assisting the general public and businesses in West Michigan that may be victims of cybercrime or simply seek information regarding cybercrime,” said Rockford Assistant Post Commander Lieutenant Greg Poulson of the Michigan State Police.
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.
For more information visit hwmuw.org/cybersecurity.