Network News: Winter 2017

Winter 2017
Volume 10 | Issue 1
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network news

Sentinel 3.0


 After conducting a survey of its staff and external law enforcement members of the Consumer Sentinel Network (CSN), the FTC is significantly upgrading CSN to respond to member suggestions.  The objective of these upgrades, scheduled for late spring, is to increase usage and value of CSN to its users.  Key upgrades will include new analytical and visualization tools, phrase cloud and phrase trending, and search results that will personalize user experiences.  Users interested in participating in beta testing should please email   

Annual Reports

In December, the FTC issued the National Do Not Call Registry Data Book for Fiscal Year 2016.  According to this report, at the end of FY 2016, the Do Not Call Registry contained just over 226 million actively registered phone numbers, up from the 223 million at the end of FY 2015.  In addition, the number of consumer complaints about unwanted telemarketing calls received increased from just under 3.6 million during FY 2015 to more than 5.3 million during FY 2016.  The FTC’s comprehensive annual summary of consumer fraud complaints for 2016 will be available by the end of February. 

Member Training

The CSN team holds a monthly online training session for consumer protection agencies.  Want to learn how to get the data in Sentinel to work for you?  Email to participate in the next online training.

New Data Contributors

The FTC is working on adding more data contributors to the CSN, such as AARP, Inc.  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.

Did You Know?

The FTC classifies all of its complaints by Product Service Codes, which describe the goods or services offered to the consumer.  There are more than 100 codes, and a full list can be downloaded here, along with past Data Books.  The FTC plans to update these codes to capture emerging consumer technology products.  

Sentinel complaints help stop elder fraud scheme

Law enforcement officials in Dubuque, Iowa used CSN complaints in an investigation that resulted in charging four local residents with wire fraud, conspiracy, and money laundering.  As part of its Elder Justice Initiative, the U.S. Department of Justice filed a complaint in United States District Court in Cedar Rapids, alleging that from January through September 2016, the four defendants participated in a scheme to defraud people throughout the country and primarily targeted older consumers. According to the Justice Department, the participants in the fraud would initiate a telephone call and assert that a relative of the call recipient was in jail, and then they would ask the call recipient to wire bail money via Western Union or MoneyGram.  The complaint alleges that, in fact, the victims wired the money to various participants in the fraud who picked up the wire transfers and sent the money overseas.  Have a similar CSN success story?  Please email us at  

Western Union settles with the FTC and Justice Department

The Western Union Company, a global money services business, agreed to forfeit $586 million and enter into agreements with the Federal Trade Commission, the Justice Department, and the U.S. Attorneys’ Offices of the Middle District of Pennsylvania, the Central District of California, the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and the Southern District of Florida.  In its agreement with the Justice Department, Western Union admitted to criminal violations including willfully failing to maintain an effective anti-money laundering program and aiding and abetting wire fraud. 

Uber-exaggerated claims result in $20 million settlement

Uber Technologies, the San Francisco-based ride-hailing company, has agreed to pay $20 million to resolve Federal Trade Commission charges that it misled prospective drivers with exaggerated earning claims and claims about financing through its Vehicle Solutions Program.  The $20 million will be used to provide refunds to affected drivers across the country.

Changing Consumer Demographics

In December, the FTC hosted a workshop to explore changing consumer demographics.  Researchers, marketers, consumer groups, and law enforcement members discussed how predicted demographic shifts will affect the marketplace and what the FTC and others can do to combat fraud in the years ahead.  A recording of workshop highlights is here.  Of particular note is research from the FTC’s Bureau of Economics analyzing Consumer Sentinel data, entitled “What Determines Consumer Complaining Behavior.”    

PrivacyCon: The Sequel

In January, the FTC hosted its second PrivacyCon, a conference that brought together a diverse group to discuss the latest research and trends related to consumer privacy and data security.  PrivacyCon sought collaboration among leading researchers, academics, industry representatives, consumer advocates, and the government to address the privacy and security implications of emerging technologies.  It attracted over 300 attendees, 1,500 virtual attendees via webcast, and participants who presented research across the privacy spectrum – including on data security, online tracking, consumer perceptions of privacy, privacy disclosures, big data, and the economics of privacy.  A recording of conference highlights is here.


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