Network News: Winter 2021

Winter 2021
Volume 14 | Issue 1
Having trouble viewing this email? View it online.

Consumer Sentinal Network

New Year, New Data, New Improvements

2021 Ornate

The new year brings new data and improvements to Sentinel.  In addition to the historic data expansion, there are helpful new features.  These features include a way to share complaints within Sentinel, searching by County, Advanced Searches by Federal Judicial District, Advanced Searches by gift card type, and various other enhancements.  These features are covered in the monthly Sentinel training sessions.  You can email for details.  

Annual Data Book

The FTC just released the annual Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book and it is filled with charts, graphs, and state-by-state numbers about those whom consumers say didn’t play it by the numbers in 2020. In addition to statistics about questionable practices reported by consumers, the Data Book sounds some sobering alarms about scams targeting businesses.  In addition, the Sentinel Team has now overhauled its coding for report categories and subcategories to stay current with consumer protection trends.

In the Spotlight

When the job market is tough, scammers target people who are looking for work or trying to bring in extra income.  Economic conditions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic may have created ideal conditions for these scams to proliferate.  In fact, the volume of reports to the FTC about income scams reached the highest levels on record in the second quarter of 2020.  You can learn more here.

Operation Income Illusion

Income Illusion

Sentinel complaints provided pivotal assistance with a nationwide, multijurisdictional crackdown on scams that target consumers with fake promises of income and financial independence that have no basis in reality. The impact of these scams has intensified as scammers take advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic and financial crisis.

Called “Operation Income Illusion,” the crackdown encompassed more than 50 law enforcement actions against the operators of work-from-home and employment scams, pyramid schemes, investment scams, bogus coaching courses, and other schemes that can end up costing consumers thousands of dollars.

Sentinel Complaints Help Stop Lottery Scam

Sentinel Complaints were also pivotal in aiding Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigations in stopping a lottery scam that preyed upon older consumers.  In one case, an Arizonan consumer spent over $74,000 to win a $5 million dollar prize.      

Historic Do Not Call Settlement

DOJ Seal

In December, the Department of Justice announced a settlement in which DISH Network LLC (DISH) will pay $126 million in civil penalties to the United States for placing millions of telemarketing calls in violation of the FTC's Telemarketing Sales Rule (TSR).

This settlement represents the largest civil penalty ever paid to resolve telemarketing violations under the FTC Act, and exceeds the total penalties paid to the government by all prior violators of the TSR.  DISH will also pay a combined $84 million to four states for violations of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, for a total settlement of $210 million.

FTC Returns More Than $482 Million to Consumers

New data released by the Federal Trade Commission shows that FTC actions led to more than $482 million in refunds to consumers across the country in 2020.  

Ransomware Guidance


Ransomware is a form of malware that can lock up networks and deny access to business-critical data unless the victim pays a ransom – often in bitcoin – to the attackers.  The FTC has provided businesses with guidance on dealing with this threat. 

National Consumer Protection Week

This year, National Consumer Protection Week will be from February 28 – March 6, 2021.  The FTC has provided guidance on preparations. 

Consumer Sentinel Network

Learn more about Consumer Sentinel at

To join Consumer Sentinel, visit

Comments, questions, or kudos? Email