AP NEWS

New hotline launches in Rhode Island to report cybercrimes

May 13, 2019

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — A hotline for Rhode Island residents to report cybercrimes and find resources to recover that launched Monday can be a model for other states, U.S. Rep. Jim Langevin said.

The Rhode Island Democrat unveiled the hotline at the United Way Rhode Island office in Providence. It’s the first statewide hotline of its kind in the nation, according to Langevin and the nonprofit Cybercrime Support Network.

The Michigan-based Cybercrime Support Network is working with states to obtain federal funding to launch these hotlines. CEO Kristin Judge said the next statewide hotline will be in North Carolina and the goal is to have one in each state in three years. Rhode Island is first because of Langevin’s interest in cybersecurity and help with securing funding, Judge added.

Langevin said that while the internet has revolutionized society, it was not designed with security in mind and cybercrime is becoming more pervasive. People often don’t know where to turn when their information has been compromised, but “that all changes today,” added Langevin, the co-founder of the Congressional Cybersecurity Caucus.

Victims of cybercrime and online fraud in Rhode Island can now dial “2-1-1” to speak with an operator who’ll assess the situation and put them in touch with law enforcement or support organizations. Operators will also fill out the FBI complaint form for internet crimes on behalf of the callers, which can help the agency better track the number of cybercrime victims, Judge said.

The Rhode Island State Police helped train the operators to field calls about cyber breaches. State Police Col. James Manni and other law enforcement officials attended Monday’s ceremony to show support for the new endeavor.

The Blackstone Valley Advocacy Center, United Way 2-1-1 and Cybercrime Support Network are partnering to manage the Rhode Island hotline, with $280,000 in federal funding. Langevin said they’ve already had their first call.