West Michigan 211 rolls out cybercrime help

Kent County

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A new pilot program in West Michigan will give people someplace to turn when they find themselves the victim of a cybercrimes.

The new program is run through a familiar number: 211.

The United Way’s 211 connects people in need with various services for everything from necessities like food, shelter and clothing to more advanced help for specialized needs.

On Tuesday at Heart of West Michigan United Way in downtown Grand Rapids, law enforcement from the local, county and state level joined in an announcement that the region’s 211 system will now team with the Cybercrime Support Network to allow people to report online problems. That could include being scammed out of money, having bank accounts hacked or being bullied. The CSN will then put callers in touch with the people who can help.

Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist was there to support the project, saying it’s about being feeling and being safe.

“As the internet becomes more pervasive, more connected to all parts of our lives, it’s critical that we all understand what we can do when something goes wrong, what we can do when somebody lies to us, what we can do when someone takes advantage of us on the internet, and that’s why this resource is so important,” he said.

The cybercrime response pilot program is already being implemented in other parts of the country on a startup basis. It is not yet available elsewhere in West Michigan, though organizers hope that it will be in time.

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