As 2013 comes to a close, the Consumer Sentinel Network can
reflect on several high points of the year. First, we added new features: a cross-border complaint checkbox, a
complaint resolution field and a new page with resources to help you connect to
the Criminal Liaison Unit. Second, we overhauled
the Do Not Call interface, updated the FTC Complaint Assistant, held the successful Robocall Challenge, and issued the 2013
Sentinel and DNC Data Books. Looking ahead, we’re working on adding more state
attorneys general as contributors and logging military complaints about
for-profit colleges and schools.
The data in Sentinel became
more robust with the addition of complaints from: the U.S. Senate
Special Committee on Aging; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; the
Attorneys General of California, Louisiana, and Maine; and the advocacy group
in obtaining only cross-border complaints? Sentinel now allows you to easily identify
complaints where the target and their victims are located in different
countries. Go to the Advanced Search’s
Cross Border Complaint dropdown menu and select yes to identify international complaints.
The FTC has named Jan.
13-17, 2014, Tax Identity Theft Awareness Week. The Commission will host national and regional
events to raise awareness about tax identity theft, and provide people with
tips on how to protect themselves and what to do if they become victims. Tax
identity theft accounted for more than 43 percent of the Commission’s identity
theft complaints in 2012, nearly double the number received in 2011. Check the campaign site
to find an event near you, get outreach resources if you want to host an event,
along with ideas to spread the word. If you counsel clients or volunteer in the
community, take a look at the FTC’s updated Guide for Assisting Identity Theft Victims. The Guide gives an overview of identity theft and
provides sample letters and other resources to help you help them.
According to the recently
released National Do Not Call Registry Data Book, the National Do Not Call Registry had more than 223
million actively registered phone numbers at the end of Fiscal Year 2013 – up
from the 217 million numbers registered at the end of FY 2012. During FY 2013
the number of complaints related to “robocalls” ranged from 147,000 to more
than 234,000 per month, while the highest monthly number of overall complaints
was about 370,000.
The FTC has announced a proposed settlement resolving allegations that a payment processor used unfair tactics to
maintain scores of merchant accounts for Infusion Media Inc., which perpetrated
the “Google Money Tree” work-at-home scheme. Using merchant accounts set
up by Process America Inc. and its owners, Infusion Media placed more than $15
million in unauthorized charges on people’s debit and credit card accounts.
Payment processors and Independent Sales Organizations (ISOs) enable merchants
to charge consumers’ credit cards for products and services. In exchange,
payment processors and ISOs get paid for each transaction the merchant
the FTC’s request, a federal judge has temporarily stopped an operation that bilked
more than $14 million from small businesses and churches for unwanted listings
in online business directories. The FTC seeks to end the illegal practices and
make Mohamad Khaled Kaddoura, his associates and 15 companies they ran return
money to the victims. The scheme has generated more than 13,000 complaints to
2013 by the numbers:
- nearly 2 million fraud and identity theft complaints
- 3 million Do Not Call complaints
- 35 training events for more than 650 law enforcers
- 65 agencies joined as
users of the Network
default judgment against Business Recovery Services
LLC and a
consent judgment against Brian Hessler, its owner, bans them from selling
recovery services. The FTC alleged that their operation bilked victims of
previous scams by falsely claiming it could help them recover money they lost.
A federal court has ordered Matthew J. Loewen and
his companies to pay more than $5.1 million to people they allegedly duped into
paying hundreds of dollars each to sell their cars. The defendants falsely
claimed to have buyers lined up for sellers’ cars, and that they would provide
refunds if the cars weren’t sold. The court also permanently banned the
defendants from telemarketing and payment processing.
joined the Consumer Sentinel Network in
the past month: the U.S. Department of Health and Human
Services and 15 agencies from Nevada, Kansas, California, Ohio, Illinois, Maine,
Michigan, New York, and Wisconsin, including 10 police or sheriff’s offices.
Share any of FTC’s free resources and tips in your programs, on your website, and with your social networks.
Order free FTC materials at ftc.gov/bulkorder.