Network News - July 2015

July 2015
Volume 8 | Issue 4
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Data Purge

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On July 31, 2015, the Consumer Sentinel Network (CSN) will purge complaints that are more than five years old (that is, those submitted before July 31, 2010). But the Litigation Hold feature allows you to retain complaints beyond the five-year period if they’re necessary for litigation purposes. First, conduct an advanced search; the Litigation Hold link (and instructions) appear on the right side of your results. If you already have a litigation hold on complaints, you don’t need to create a new one. Check your existing litigation holds to ensure that the date range you specified covers complaints entered prior to July 31, 2010 and if those complaints are necessary for litigation purposes. Questions? Email the Consumer Sentinel Help Desk at or call (877) 701-9595.

New Improvement: Spam Database Adds Mobile Spam

The Spam Database sports some upgrades, including a new portal to search text messages, additional search fields, and the ability to preview text message search results. The Database portal allows users to search mobile text messages (referred to as Mobile Spam or MSpam) that were submitted through two sources, and the FTC Complaint Assistant. New filters in the Spam Database flag text messages as MSpam for the portal. Complaint Assistant now gets more relevant information about the texts. The Database also has new search fields for MSpam and ESpam (email spam). You can toggle between the MSpam and ESpam results. Look for the icon to identify the source of the texts. Finally, users can now preview results. For MSpam, you can see an image of the text. For ESpam, you can preview up to 10 messages at a time.

Did You Know?

Quick Search is the bar that appears on the left, just under your name.  Although the default for Quick Search is one year, the CSN has complaints exceeding that.  Select “All to Date” in Quick Search or use the Advanced Search feature on the blue bar to access those complaints. 

Fake Cancer Charities Duped Donors

The FTC and law enforcement partners from all 50 states and the District of Columbia charged four sham cancer charities with taking over $187 million from donors and spending much of it on the people who ran the fake charities, and their telemarketers. The money went for cars, vacations, cruises, college tuition, gym memberships, jet ski outings, concert tickets, and dating site memberships, among other things. According to the complaint, Cancer Fund of America, Inc.; Cancer Support Services Inc.; Children’s Cancer Fund of America Inc.; and The Breast Cancer Society told donors their money would help support cancer patients with medicine, groceries, transportation for chemo treatments, counseling, and hospice care, but little or none went for those purposes.

Ashworth College Learns a Lesson

Ashworth College agreed to settle FTC charges that it misrepresented what its online college degree and career-training programs could do for students. Ashworth promised that graduates of its programs would have the “credentials [to] apply for jobs [or] change careers.” However, many of its programs did not meet the standards of state licensing bodies. The FTC also alleges the for-profit college falsely claimed that the course credits students earned there could transfer to other colleges. The FTC says Ashworth had no basis for that promise – and even lacked the type of accreditation that many schools require to accept transfer credits.

Debt Collectors Messaging for Money

The FTC took action against three debt collection companies, alleging that when they texted, emailed or called financially distressed people, they didn’t say they were debt collectors. According to the complaint, Unified Global Group, Premier Debt Acquisitions, and Primary Group deceived people by pretending to be attorneys or government agencies and threatening lawsuits or arrests.

New Website

Recovering from identity theft is easier with a plan. If you’re helping someone whose identity has been stolen, or they’ve gotten a notice about a data breach, tell them to visit the FTC’s new site at for help. is the federal government’s one-stop resource to help you report and recover from identity theft. It’s also available in Spanish at

Asking About Access?

The CSN team is developing easier – and less expensive access for the CSN using multi-factor authentication. Instead of using a token, you’ll receive a phone call or text with a number to enter onto the website for access.  

Member Training

The CSN team has held outreach and training sessions for over 300 law enforcers from consumer protection agencies this year, including the National Sheriffs’ Association in Baltimore, Maryland. Want to learn how to get the data in Sentinel to work for you? Email to attend the next online training.

New Data Contributor

The Vermont Attorney General will soon become the 21st state Attorney General’s office to share its data with the CSN. If you have consumer complaint data, you can help fellow CSN members boost their law enforcement capabilities by sharing it in the CSN. Contact for details.


The Consumer Sentinel Network welcomes new members from five states: California (Department of Consumer Affairs, Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education); Colorado (Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies, Division of Securities and the 17th Judicial District Attorney's Office, Investigations); Florida (Osceola County Sheriff's Office); Ohio (Bexley Police Department); and Tennessee (Belle Meade Police Department).  It also welcomes the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, Investigations Directorate.  As for international members, the Finnish Competition and Consumer Authority as well as the Dominican Republic’s National Institute of Consumer Protection Rights have joined as agencies. 


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