How to Report Possible Federal Criminal Violations to the Proper Authorities
If you suspect or witness a federal crime, it’s important to report it to the proper authorities so it can be investigated. Here is some guidance on how to do that:
In an Emergency
If there is an immediate threat to life or property, call 911 first. The 911 operator can dispatch police, fire, and emergency medical services. Provide the exact address and description of the emergency.
Contact Local Law Enforcement
Many federal crimes are also violations of state or local laws. Contacting the local police department or sheriff’s office allows them to respond right away and determine if it should also be reported to federal authorities.
You can find contact information for your local law enforcement agencies by searching online. Many police departments also have non-emergency phone numbers you can call to submit tips or file reports.
Submit an FBI Tip
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) investigates violations of federal law. To submit a tip to the FBI:
- Go to tips.fbi.gov and fill out the online form
- Call 1-800-CALL-FBI (225-5324)
- Contact your local FBI field office
On the tip form or call, provide as many details as possible about the suspected crime and the people involved. You can submit a tip anonymously. The FBI reviews all tips to determine if they warrant investigation.
Report Specific Crimes
There are designated reporting channels for certain types of federal crimes:
- Child exploitation: Report to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children at 1-800-843-5678 or CyberTipline.org. This includes child pornography, child sex trafficking, and online enticement.
- Human trafficking: Call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888 or text 233733.
- Consumer fraud: File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission at ReportFraud.ftc.gov or 1-877-FTC-HELP.
- Antitrust violations: Report to the Antitrust Division at 1-888-647-3258.
- Bankruptcy fraud: Contact the Department of Justice at 1-866-720-5721 or online at Justice.gov/ust/eo/fraud.
- Healthcare fraud: Report to the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General at 1-800-HHS-TIPS or Tips.oig.hhs.gov.
- Tax fraud: Contact the IRS Criminal Investigation Division at IRS.gov or 1-800-366-4484.
- Government contract fraud: Report to the Department of Defense Inspector General at hotline.dodig.mil or 1-800-424-9098.
There are many other federal agencies that investigate specific crimes. The Justice.gov website provides reporting information for additional types of crimes.
Report Corruption and Misconduct
To report fraud, waste, abuse or misconduct by a federal employee or agency:
- Contact the Department of Justice Office of Inspector General at oig.justice.gov or 1-800-869-4499
- File a complaint online at oversight.gov
- Call the Whistleblower Protection Hotline at 1-800-572-2249
You can submit tips anonymously. Whistleblower laws prohibit retaliation against federal employees who report misconduct.
If you believe you have experienced discrimination based on your race, national origin, gender, disability or other protected class, you can file a complaint with the federal agency responsible for enforcing those civil rights laws.
For example, employment discrimination can be reported to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission at 1-800-669-4000 or EEOC.gov.
The Civil Rights Division also accepts complaints involving discrimination in housing, voting, education, and more. File a report at civilrights.justice.gov.
Report a Crime Anonymously
If you wish to report a federal crime anonymously, here are some options:
- Use the FBI online tip form at tips.fbi.gov. It allows you to submit information without revealing your identity.
- Call the relevant federal agency’s hotline number, which are always set up to accept anonymous tips.
- Contact a lawyer first to submit the report on your behalf. The attorney can keep your name confidential through attorney-client privilege.
- Use an anonymous remailer service that strips identifying information from emails.
- Mail an anonymous letter with no return address and drop it in a public mailbox away from your home.
An anonymous report makes it harder for investigators to follow up for additional details. But it’s better to report anonymously than not at all if you have concerns about your safety.