Network News: Spring 2018

Spring 2018
Volume 11 | Issue 2
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Consumer Sentinal Network

Advanced Training


Please join us for a Sentinel Advanced Training Session on Tuesday, May 1st at 12 PM EST.  It will last one hour and focus on the Spotlight and Explore Complaint Relationships features.  If you are new to Sentinel, Basic Training will be on Wednesday, May 9th 12-1:15 PM EST.  

Simply email to reserve a spot for either session.  

Data Book

The Federal Trade Commission has released its Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book for 2017.  This Data Book summarizes all of the consumer complaints the FTC received during 2017.  The FTC received complaints from 2.68 million consumers in 2017, a decrease from 2016 when 2.98 million consumers submitted complaints.  The annual report, which does not include National Do Not Call Registry complaints, provides national and state-by-state data on consumer complaints.  Although the number of complaints declined, consumers reported losing a total of $905 million to fraud in 2017, which was $63 million more than in 2016.


In 2018, the Sentinel Team has conducted 15 outreach and training sessions for over 300 people, most recently at the National Cyber Crime Conference in Massachusetts.  You can find future training session notices by logging onto Sentinel.  Need quicker help?  There is a short online video when you log in, as well as various tipsheets in the Help section.  Check out the tipsheets on Search, Download, Spotlights, and Graph Analytics.  

New Data Sources

New sources of complaint data are on the way.  We have recently added complaints from the AARP Fraud Watch Network and New York Attorney General’s Office.  This spring, the Nebraska Attorney General’s Office will also share complaints.  Remember that you can search for complaints submitted by specific data contributors in Advanced Search or by using the Complaint Source navigator (found on the lower left side bar in the Search Results page).  

New Technical Complaint Codes


The product service codes are the Sentinel complaint categories that define the good or service offered to the consumer.  We are adding new technical ones this year, such as broadband, connected devices, digital media, malware, and negative online reviews.  Please note that this change may have an impact on your existing Spotlights.

Victory Against Robocalls

In late March, the FTC filed a complaint and motion for preliminary injunction in federal district court alleging that Alliance Security Inc., a home security installation company, and its founder, directly and through its authorized telemarketers, called millions of consumers whose numbers are on the National Do Not Call Registry. Alliance, two of its authorized telemarketers, and their principals have agreed to settle FTC charges that they made illegal calls.

According to the FTC, Alliance and its CEO and founder Jasjit “Jay” Gotra are recidivist violators of the Commission’s Telemarketing Sales Rule. Gotra previously operated Alliance under the name Versatile Marketing Solutions, Inc., and settled FTC telemarketing- and robocall-related charges against them in a court order announced in April 2014. In the recent action, the FTC alleges Alliance and Gotra never complied with the 2014 court order.

A New Way to Report Tax-Related Identity Theft


The Federal Trade Commission is teaming up with the Internal Revenue Service to make it easier for consumers to report tax-related identity theft and to receive assistance to help recover.

The IRS will now allow consumers to report identity theft to the IRS electronically through the FTC’s website. Tax-related identity theft happens when someone uses your stolen Social Security number to file a tax return and claim your refund. Victims of tax-related identity theft may need to file the IRS Identity Theft Affidavit, also known as IRS Form 14039, so the IRS can begin resolving the problem. Prior to January of 2018, consumers could only file IRS Form 14039 by printing and mailing the form.

Under the new FTC-IRS initiative, is the only place where consumers can submit an IRS Form 14039 electronically. A new FTC blog post provides more detail about how the process works. allows consumers to report identity theft and to receive a personal recovery plan. Consumers can also obtain an Identity Theft Report that can be used in place of a police report to help clear their credit reports of fraudulent information, and customized letters they can send to creditors, debt collectors, and others to help recover from identity theft causes.

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