AMBER alerts are used by law enforcement to notify the public about missing children thought to have been abducted.  AMBER Alerts are only used for the most serious child abduction cases, when authorities believe a child is in imminent danger of serious bodily injury or death. The goal of AMBER Alerts is to add millions of extra eyes and ears to watch, listen and help in the safe return of the child and apprehension of the abductor.

How it works

Law enforcement officials issue AMBER Alerts with photos and information about missing children and possible abductors, along with contact numbers to report sitings or provide information. Alerts are sent to radio and television stations and cable TV outlets that use the Emergency Alert System to relay the information to local communities throughout the United States and its territories.

Subscribers of participating wireless service providers can also receive AMBER Alerts as text messages on their wireless devices without being charged. Check with your wireless service provider to determine whether it participates in this program.  The FCC requires AMBER Alerts sent using the Wireless Emergency Alert system to include web links to photos of the missing children and phone numbers for law enforcement.

What you can do

If you see a child, adult or vehicle fitting an AMBER Alert description, immediately call the telephone number given in the AMBER Alert and provide authorities with as much information as possible.

If you believe a child is missing, you should contact local law enforcement immediately, then call the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children at 1-800-THE-LOST (1-800-843-5678). More information about available resources can be found at

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Date Last Updated/Reviewed: 
Thursday, August 16, 2018