Rhode Islanders have a new resource should they be the victim of online scams or harassment. With a $280,000 federal grant, Rhode Island has created a 2-1-1 call service to offer advice and resources for people targeted online, a nationwide first.

Phone operators will be able to help people report crimes, or try to recoup money and information in cases of identity theft, financial fraud, or online harassment.

“No system will ever be entirely cyber-secure, and that’s something that we all have to kind of come to terms with,” said Jennifer McCardle, who studies internet security at Salve Regina University. “New malware is going to be created. The more we interconnect our machines with other things, new vulnerabilities will be created.”

McCardle says the new hotline is an important step to deal with increasingly sophisticated online scams. It’s also offers a chance to collect data on who is being harassed online.

The ability to take that data and correlate it would actually allow you start to build out some cyber-trends, and to start to understand the communities these adversaries are choosing to target and why they’re choosing to target it,” McCardle said.

John Alfred, RI State Police Joint Cyber Task Force and the RI Fusion Center, says law enforcement does plan to collect data to start mapping trends in local cyber crime.