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Michigan starts its first cybercrime hotline in Grand Rapids

Michigan now has a cybercrime support and recovery hotline. Kent County residents can dial 2-1-1 if they are the victim of cybercrime and be connected to resources to help them figure out the next steps.

The Heart of West Michigan United Way and Cybercrime Support Network launched the new hotline Tuesday. It’s the first in Michigan, but more could be on the way. The plan is to expand the program to about a dozen other counties by the end of next year.

Detective First Lieutenant James Ellis is with the Michigan State Police Cyber Command Center and Computer Crimes Unit. He said cybercrime is a growing problem in Michigan.

“Our devices we own and we carry and the services we use are almost all online now,” Ellis said. “And with the introduction of the Internet of Things over the last couple years it’s even going to more prevalent.”

The crimes include identity theft, financial fraud, cyberstalking, and cyberbullying.

The funding for the program comes from a federal victims’ fund that uses money from restitution in criminal cases to improve victim services.

Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist, who has a background in software development and computer engineering, said this is about giving residents peace of mind.

“When something bad happens to you and you don’t know what to do, that’s another chapter of trauma,” he said.