Montana Department of Justice
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The internet is in our workplaces, in our homes, on our phones. It connects us to one another in a powerful way. It also has the potential to connect us to would-be criminals. We’ve outlined a few of the most common schemes below.  Additionally, the federal government maintains a website that is managed by the FTC — — to help you be safe, secure and responsible online.  Some topics on their website include Online Security, Protecting Kids Online and Reducing Spam.

“Phishing” Scams

“We are doing our semi-annual account verification and we are unable to verify your data. Please click here to update your information.”

“Our records indicate there was recently an unauthorized transaction on your account. To maintain the safety of your account, please click on the link below and enter the requested information.”

Messages like these are parts of an e-mail scam called “phishing.” They try to lure personal information – credit card numbers, bank account information, Social Security numbers, passwords or other sensitive information – from unsuspecting victims.

Phishing e-mails:

  • appear to come from companies and agencies – even government agencies and charities – with whom consumers may regularly conduct business
  • frequently contain links to sites that look remarkably like a legitimate organization’s site
  • may threaten a consequence – closing an account, terminating a service – unless consumers update their billing information

These messages and sites are bogus. They seek to trick consumers into divulging information to operators who can in turn steal their identities, get credit or run up bills in the consumer’s name.

Consumers should always be cautious of any unsolicited communication requesting personal information.

  • Do not reply to an e-mail or pop-up message that asks for personal information and don’t click on the link in the message. Legitimate businesses don’t ask for these types of information via e-mail. Contact the company directly using a telephone number or a website address you know to be legitimate.
  • Be suspicious of warnings that accounts will be shut down with little or no notice if you don’t reconfirm your billing information. Don’t be pressured into responding before you can contact the legitimate organization.
  • Look at the “address bar” at the top of the browser, not just the graphics and logos on the web page. Fake sites often use a different domain name from the legitimate business site they are copying.
  • Avoid sending personal and financial information via e-mail whenever possible.

If you think you have disclosed personal information through a phishing e-mail, take these steps to protect yourself:

  • Contact the credit card company and cancel the account.
  • Call the three credit bureaus and put fraud alerts on your accounts.
  • If you do find illegal activity on your credit report, refer to the 10 Steps to Recover from Identity Theft.


Unsolicited commercial e-mails, often referred to as “spam,” are an irritating fact of life for consumers who use the Internet to communicate with friends, do research, or purchase goods and services online.

In 2003, the federal government passed an anti-spam law, called the CAN Spam Act. Among other regulations, the CAN Spam Act requires that unsolicited commercial e-mail be clearly identified as such and that consumers be able to opt-out of receiving more e-mails. The Federal Trade Commission is also charged with investigating the viability of a do-not-spam registry, similar to the do-not-call phone registry already in place.

While many unsolicited e-mail messages are annoying, only some fall into the illegal category. But even if a message does not violate federal anti-spam laws, it should still be viewed with caution.

Messages may contain advertisements for pornography, get-rich-quick schemes and other ploys that violate state law, or they may be offensive and inappropriate for children. Clicking on links contained in spam messages can also expose Internet users to computer viruses.

To reduce the amount of spam you get:

  • Try not to display your e-mail address in public. This includes newsgroup postings, chat rooms or websites.
  • When you do choose to submit your e-mail address, check the privacy policy and see if it allows the company to sell your address and, if so, find out if you can “opt out.”
  • Read and understand the entire form before you transmit personal information through a website. Many sites allow you to opt out of receiving additional information from their “partners,” but you may have to check a pre-selected box to opt out.
  • Consider using two e-mail addresses, with one for personal messages and one for newsgroups and chat rooms.
  • Try to make your e-mail address unique. Some spammers use “dictionary attacks” to sort through possible name combinations at large ISPs or e-mail services in search of an e-mail address. So, for example, “jdoe” gets more spam than “jd45x2oe.”
  • Use an e-mail filter. Check your e-mail account to see if it provides a tool to filter out potential spam.
  • Never reply to or even open e-mails you know to be spam.


Another increasingly annoying problem for many Internet users is unsolicited pop-up messages. Although pop-ups are annoying, they are not illegal.

To decrease the number of pop-ups on your computer, you can install:

  • pop-up blocking software that is frequently low cost or even free. A properly patched version of Windows XP has a pop-up blocker you can turn on.
  • a firewall that is designed to block hackers from accessing your computer and getting into your programs and files. A firewall is different from anti-virus protection.

While anti-virus software scans incoming communications and files for troublesome files, a firewall helps make you invisible on the Internet and blocks all communications from unauthorized sources.

Recently released operating system software comes with a built-in firewall. Because it may be shipped in the “off” mode, check your online “Help” feature for specifics on turning it on and setting it up properly.

If your operating system doesn’t include a firewall, you can install separate firewall software that runs in the background while you use your computer and use the Internet.

Several free firewall software programs are available on the Internet. (You can find one by typing “free firewall” into your favorite search engine.) You can also buy a hardware firewall, an external device that includes firewall software. Like anti-virus software, a firewall needs to be updated regularly to be effective.

Adware and Spyware

Adware and Spyware is software installed on your computer without your consent. It can control and monitor your computer use. Clues that spyware might be on your computer include:

  • a barrage of pop-up ads
  • a browser that takes you to sites you don’t want
  • unexpected toolbars or icons on your screen, or new or unexpected icons on the system tray at the bottom of your screen
  • keys that don’t work
  • random error messages
  • sluggish performance when opening programs or saving files

To lower your risk of spyware or adware infections:

  • Update your operating system and Web browser software, and set your browser security high enough to detect unauthorized downloads.
  • Use anti-virus and anti-spyware software, as well as a firewall, and update them regularly.
  • Download free software only from sites you know and trust. Some offers of free software can include other, unwanted software, including spyware. When downloading software, read the end-user license agreement (EULA) carefully.
  • Don’t click on any links within pop-up windows.
  • Don’t click on links in spam that claim to offer anti-spyware software. You may be unintentionally installing spyware.

Where to Complain


Attorney General's Office & Legal Services Division

The Attorney General’s Office, headed by Attorney General Tim Fox, and the Legal Services Division function as the lawyers for the State of Montana. The attorneys in the Office have expertise in a wide range of legal topics and handle a broad range of legal cases involving the State of Montana and its people.


Children’s Justice Bureau

The Children’s Justice Bureau is an agency-wide initiative at the Montana Department of Justice dedicated to IMPROVING how we respond to child victims, DEVELOPING state-of-the-art approaches by keeping up with the newest research and, most importantly, HELPING child victims recover and move on with their lives.


Forensic Science Division & State Crime Lab

The mission of the Montana Forensic Science Division is to use operationally efficient and financially responsible practices as the laboratory provides accurate, objective, and timely forensic analyses to the criminal justice community in order to maximize value to the citizens of Montana.


Missing Persons Clearinghouse

The Missing Children Act of 1985 established a Montana Missing Persons Clearinghouse within the Department of Justice. In March 2008, the department implemented a searchable online database that, for the first time, is updated in real time and includes any photos provided by law enforcement.


Office of Victim Services

The goal of the Office of Victim Services is to provide tools and information to help crime victims recover from their experience and provide them with a range of services available. The criminal justice system can be confusing and intimidating for victims. To assist them as they go through the justice system, the Office of Victim Service is available to answer any questions they may have.


Central Services Division

The Montana Department of Justice’s Central Services Division provides financial and human resources support for the department. We make sure that everything works for the people Working for Justice. If you’re interested in a rewarding career helping protect the rights and safety of all Montanans, we invite you to join our team of over 800 dedicated employees working across the state.


Justice Information Technology Services Division

Our Justice Information Technology Services Division (JITSD) provides vital Information Technology (IT) infrastructure upon which Montanans and local and state law enforcement agencies rely for timely, accurate information. JITSD manages the IT systems, services, and interfaces to support nearly 800 DOJ employees, 325 statewide county motor vehicle system users, and over 3,000 Criminal Justice Information Network (CJIN) users across the state.


Division of Criminal Investigation

The Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) at the Montana Department of Justice is involved in many aspects of Montana law enforcement and is integral to the Department of Justice’s mission of promoting public safety.


Montana Highway Patrol

Montana is rich in natural beauty and history. From Glacier Park in the west to Makoshika Park in the east, the men and women of the Montana Highway Patrol are working hard to make your travels safe and enjoyable. The Highway Patrol’s core values are “Service, Integrity and Respect.” These values are reflected in our commitment to public safety through diligent and fair enforcement of our traffic codes.


Montana Law Enforcement Academy

The Montana Law Enforcement Academy is the premier law enforcement and public safety educational and training institution for state, county, city and tribal officers throughout the state. The Academy offers entry-level programs referred to as Basic Programs and advanced training through an array of Professional Development Programs.


Public Safety Officer Standards & Training

The Council was formed in 2007 under 2-15-2029, MCA as an independent Quasi-judicial board. And as allowed by statute the Council adopted Administrative Rules in order to implement the provisions of Title 44, chapter 4, part 4, MCA. Per 44-4-403, MCA the Council is required to set employment and training standards for all Public Safety Officers as defined in 44-4-401, MCA and in addition the Council shall provide for the certification or recertification of public safety officers and for the suspension or revocation of certification of public safety officers.


Motor Vehicle Division

The mission of the Motor Vehicle Division (MVD) is to identify and promote efficient, cost-effective programs that benefit the interests, safety, and well-being of Montana citizens through licensing, registering, and regulating the motoring activities of the public. The MVD continuously strives for excellence in customer service. Streamlining the way we do business has allowed us to improve our efficiency and make our services more convenient for our customers.


Natural Resource Damage Program

The Natural Resource Damage Program (NRDP) was created in 1990 to prepare the state’s lawsuit against the Atlantic Richfield Co. (ARCO) for injuries to the natural resources in the Upper Clark Fork River Basin (UCFRB). Decades of mining and mineral processing operations in and around Butte and Anaconda released substantial quantities of hazardous substances into the Upper Clark Fork River Basin between Butte and Milltown. These hazardous substances extensively degraded the area’s natural resources.


Office of Consumer Protection

Enforce consumer laws designed to protect the consumer from unfair or deceptive business practices. Enforce statutes relating to telephone solicitation and telemarketing. Provide information to consumers about the Consumer Protection Act. Assist consumers by distributing consumer education materials including scam and consumer alerts. Investigate false, misleading, or deceptive trade practices.


Gambling Control Division

Through the Gambling Control Division, the Department of Justice regulates all forms of gambling in Montana, except for the Montana Lottery and horse racing. The legislature has charged the division with maintaining a uniform regulatory climate that is fair and free of corrupt influences. The division is also responsible for collecting gambling revenue for state and local governments.


Human Trafficking

The Montana Department of Justice has a continued commitment to victims of human trafficking. In partnership with federal authorities, our agency plays a key role in the investigation, enforcement, and prosecution of crimes related to human trafficking in Montana. This form of modern day slavery does happen here in Big Sky Country.


Prescription Drug Abuse Awareness Program

Montana’s deadliest drugs aren’t made in secret labs and they don’t always come from dealers on the corner. They’re in our own medicine cabinets. Each year, prescription drug abuse contributes to the deaths of more than 300 Montanans — making prescription drug abuse 15 times more deadly than meth, heroin and cocaine combined. Our kids report the third-highest rate of prescription drug abuse in the country and more than half of them say prescription drugs are easier to get than street drugs.


Safe in Your Space

When it comes to embracing new technology, kids have rapidly outpaced their parents and teachers. By their early school years, many children are already more comfortable on the Internet than their parents. But just because children are smart enough to know how to navigate the Internet, doesn’t mean they have the experience to make good decisions about some of the possibilities they may face online.


Montana Sexual or Violent Offender Registry

Created by the Montana Department of Justice in 1989, the Sexual or Violent Offender Registry is a valuable resource for Montanans to protect their families against sexual or violent offenders.


Montana 24/7 Sobriety Program

Drinking and driving has been a chronic – and deadly — problem on Montana’s roadways for decades. In 2008, Montana was ranked as the deadliest state in the nation when it came to per capita DUI-related traffic fatalities.


Work for Justice

Everyday at The Montana Department of Justice, our employees are dedicated to ensuring the well-being and rights of the people of our great state. We’re passionate about what we do because it’s more than a job or a career. It’s about who we are as people. If this sounds like you, your unique experiences, knowledge, and values may be just what the Montana Department of Justice is looking for and needs. In return we can offer a culture that promotes fairness and growth opportunities.