Network News - August 2016

August 2016
Volume 9 | Issue 2
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network news

New and improved

Sentinel has added new features and refined some existing ones to improve users’ search experience.

  • Comment word cloud: Create a word cloud of the most common terms from the comments in your search results. With the click of a button in your results, you can see the most popular themes without reading every comment.
  • More navigators: Sentinel’s filters (called “navigators”) can refine your initial search results – and now users can apply more than one filter at a time.
  • Surge Reports: Users now have more options to define their Surge Report: the consumer or company location; period when a complaint is created; country or state; consumer’s age range; complaint source and initial contact method; or Product Service Code.

A refreshed look – and personalized home pages for users – are coming soon to Sentinel. Want to learn more about using Sentinel and these new features? New training sessions are in the works. If you are interested in setting up a session for your organization, email


In two related settlements, one with the United States and the State of California, and one with the FTC, German automaker Volkswagen AG and related entities have agreed to spend up to $14.7 billion to settle charges of cheating emissions tests and deceiving customers. Volkswagen will 1) offer consumers a buyback and lease termination for nearly 500,000 vehicles (model year 2009-2015 2.0 liter diesel vehicles sold or leased in the U.S.) and 2) spend up to $10.03 billion to compensate consumers under the program. In addition, the companies will spend $4.7 billion to mitigate the pollution from these cars and invest in green vehicle technology.


The FTC received 353,770 imposter-related complaints last year.


Herbalife International and its affiliated companies have agreed to fully restructure their U.S. business operations and pay $200 million to compensate consumers to settle the FTC’s charges that the companies deceived people into believing they could earn substantial money selling diet, nutritional supplement, and personal care products. The settlement requires Herbalife to revamp its compensation system so that it rewards retail sales to customers and eliminates the incentives in its current system that reward distributors primarily for recruiting. It mandates a new compensation structure in which success depends on whether participants sell Herbalife products, not on whether they buy products.

TSR Amendments

Do you meet with business owners in your community? Consider letting them know about updates to the Telemarketing Sales Rule (TSR) that ban certain payment methods that are used often by scammers. Now it is illegal for telemarketers to ask customers to pay for goods or services using cash-to-cash money transfers (such as MoneyGram and Western Union transfers) or by providing PIN numbers from cash reload cards (think MoneyPak, Vanilla Reload, or Reloadit packs). It’s also illegal for telemarketers to use unsigned checks (“remotely created payment orders”) to withdraw money directly from consumers’ bank accounts.


Here’s the list of mortgage and debt relief operations that the FTC has asked the courts to permanently ban from the industry. The FTC has sued over 500 companies and individuals who broke the law, and banned nearly 300 of them.

Student debt relief

The FTC and the State of Florida sued Consumer Assistance Project and Student Aid Center for student loan debt relief schemes. The companies allegedly promised to get people out of student loan debt or to get those debts significantly reduced through government programs. However, people who paid the companies got virtually nothing for their money. At best, loans were deferred or put into forbearance. At worst, Student Aid Center told people to stop contacting their lenders and pay the company instead, which made the situation worse.

Every community

A new report, Combating Fraud in African American and Latino Communities: The FTC’s Comprehensive Strategic Plan, sets forth the agency’s extensive efforts to combat scams in every community with an emphasis on raising public awareness and encouraging more fraud reports. The agency will also host a workshop on December 6, 2016 to bring together state and federal law enforcers, researchers, legal services organizations, and other groups that serve the African American and Latino communities. The participants will examine prior research showing that African Americans and Hispanics were more likely than non-Hispanic whites to be fraud victims. Also, research shows that there is serious underreporting of fraud in these communities.

New Videos, Site Warns Consumers about Imposter Scams

The FTC has new resources to help people recognize and avoid some common imposter scams. Visit ( in Spanish) to find new videos and articles about spotting IRS imposters, romance scammers, tech support schemers, and family emergency scammers.


Sentinel welcomes new members from:

  • the Attorney General’s office in Michigan
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  • 12 police or sheriff’s departments in Alabama, Connecticut, Indiana, Illinois, Minnesota, Montana, Ohio, and Wisconsin


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