The Public Access Center Unit in the FBI’s counterterrorism division opened after the September 2001 terror attacks. The FBI expects to receive its 2 millionth tip this month, says USA Today. After tapering off in the years after the attacks, tips are increasing to the highest level since 2002. The public submitted 212,384 tips as of Aug. 14, on par with 2002, when 375,893 tips came in. Tips can be filed online at tips.fbi.gov.
Many go nowhere and fewer than a third involve terrorism, but FBI agents run down every lead – an average of 815 a day, says John O’Neill of the FBI’s National Threat Center. “We take them all seriously,” he says. “It’s the one that you don’t take seriously that becomes the 9/11.” Many tips come from estranged spouses, spurned lovers or disgruntled neighbors seeking revenge. Some people submit gibberish or forward newspaper articles. The center’s 25 employees work in round-the-clock shifts. It costs $600,000 a year. About 2 percent of the tips have investigative value, O’Neill says.