the 14th year in a row, identity theft tops the FTC’s list of complaints that
consumers submitted to the agency. That’s according to the FTC’s recently
released Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book 2013, which describes the
more than two million consumer complaints received last year. Fourteen percent
– 290,000 complaints – related to identity theft; of these complaints, 30
percent involved tax- or wage-related identity theft. Of the more than 1.1
million other complaints, 61 percent of consumers reported losses totaling more
than $1.6 billion. Other categories in the top 10 include debt collection and
Department of Veterans Affairs, Defense, Education and Justice, along with the
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Federal Trade Commission, launched
complaint process to gather information from veterans, servicemembers and their
families pursuing higher education through the Post-9/11 GI Bill and other
military education benefits. The agencies created
customized online reporting forms for students to file complaints with the VA and DoD
about an educational program’s marketing and promises about cost of attendance,
quality, course credit, graduation rates, and employment prospects upon
completion. The Department of
Education will take email complaints on these topics. The new process gives
the federal government the information it needs to identify and address unfair
practices and ensure high quality academic and student support services.
the FTC’s request, a U.S.
district court has held Bryon Wolf and Roy Eliasson in contempt, requiring
them to pay $14.75 million. According to the contempt order, the defendants violated
a December 2008 order that barred them from making misrepresentations and
billing consumers without authorization. The original order involved the FTC’s
case against Wolf,
Eliasson and their company, Suntasia Marketing, Inc. In
2007, the FTC charged the operation with deceptively marketing negative-option programs
and allegedly charging people’s bank accounts without their consent for a
variety of programs, including memberships in discount buyer and travel clubs. The case is part of the
FTC’s effort to monitor every Commission order for compliance. In the last
12 months alone, the FTC successfully tried five contempt cases. Consumers had complained in near-record numbers about
Suntasia’s practices: in fact, the FTC collected more than 5,000 formal
complaints submitted to various law
enforcement agencies and the Better Business Bureau. The FTC also found
thousands of additional complaint letters and refund requests from consumers in
Consumer Sentinel Network received more than 9 million complaints from
2009 through 2013, and more than 13 million complaints related to the Do Not
Call provisions of the Telemarketing Sales Rule during the same period.
– Consumer Sentinel Data Book
federal judge ordered the arrest and incarceration of Paul Navestad for violating a
court order in a phony government grant scheme. The court
had ordered Navestad to pay $20 million – the biggest civil penalty
against a defendant in an FTC case – and give up more than $1.1 million in
ill-gotten gains. According to the FTC, Navestad made millions of robocalls
falsely claiming that people could get grants from federal, state and local
governments, private foundations and individuals.
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to
arrange a Sentinel training session for your office or to attend an online
training session in April and May. The
Sentinel team recently held training sessions for staff from the Federal Deposit
Insurance Corporation and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service Academy, and a
demonstration for IRS’ Global Financial Investigations.
the FTC’s request, a federal court has temporarily stopped a deceptive
work-from-home scheme that conned consumers out of millions of
dollars. According to the FTC, Essent Media, LLC, Net Training, LLC, YES
International, Coaching Department and Apply Knowledge lied when they told
people they could easily earn thousands of dollars a month by buying so-called
business coaching services and establishing their own Internet businesses. The
coaching services were phony.
federal court has banned a Slovakia-based operation from the online directory
business and entered a $9 million judgment against them. In March 2013, the FTC
charged Wolfgang Valvoda, Susanne Anhorn, and Construct Data Publishers a.s.
with tricking small businesses and non-profits into paying millions of dollars
to be listed in an online directory.
The Departments of Veterans Affairs, Defense, and
the Alaska Attorney General’s office now contribute their complaint data to the
The Sentinel Network has grown by 15 agencies, including
agencies in Arizona, California, Georgia, Illinois, Michigan, Missouri,
Virginia, Puerto Rico, and Bulgaria.
Share any of the 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.