Network News: Summer 2019

Summer 2019
Volume 12 | Issue 3
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Consumer Sentinal Network

New Feature and Spam Database Update


We are pleased to announce a new feature that will assist you with your Sentinel searches—the Group Similar Complaints feature.  This feature will save you time by displaying an icon, as shown to the left, indicating that a consumer has filed the same or a similar complaint either through different sources or at a different time.  Clicking on this icon will show you those similar complaints.  Please note that you can deactivate the feature by clicking on your name and updating your profile’s search settings.           

Starting August 1, 2019, the spam database will no longer be supported, meaning it will not be possible to search the spam database.  The agency will cease collecting spam in the near future.  We plan to archive the spam on which users have litigation holds. A Sentinel contractor can assist in retrieving that spam should the need arise.  All other Sentinel functions will remain as they are.  For questions and concerns, please contact

In the Spotlight

Monthly complaints to the FTC’s Consumer Sentinel Network about scammers pretending to be from the government reached the highest levels on record this spring.  Since 2014, consumers have filed nearly 1.3 million reports about these cons, far more than any other type of fraud. The FTC received about 46,600 complaints in May alone from consumers who were contacted by someone falsely claiming to be from the Social Security Administration, Internal Revenue Service, or another government entity, according to the latest FTC Consumer Protection Data Spotlight. These scammers may tell people that their Social Security number has been suspended, which does not happen, or that they are facing arrest because they owe back taxes and demand payment from the consumer to avoid getting into trouble. Often, they demand that a consumer pay with a gift card -- which is a dead giveaway that the consumer is dealing with a scammer.

Although only six percent of consumers who report a government imposter scam say they lost money, when people do report a loss, it is a significant amount. The median amount consumers reported losing to a government imposter scam from January 2018 through May of this year was $960. Consumers under the age of 60 report losing money at higher rates than consumers over that age, but median individual reported losses increase with age.

The FTC warns consumers to be suspicious if they receive a call out of the blue from someone claiming to be from a government agency.  You can find additional tips on how to avoid government imposter scams in the FTC’s latest data spotlight.  Visit the FTC’s new interactive infographic to explore data about the top government imposter scams.


The next Sentinel outreach event is the National Association of Consumer Protection Investigators Conference in Cleveland, Ohio.  Also, the next online training session is Tuesday, August 6th at noon EST and will cover Sentinel in about an hour.  Simply email to register.


Calling It Quits

In late June, the FTC and its law enforcement partners announced a major crackdown on illegal robocalls, including 94 actions targeting operations around the country that are responsible for more than one billion calls pitching a variety of products and services including credit card interest rate reduction services, money-making opportunities, and medical alert systems.

The joint crackdown, “Operation Call it Quits,” is part of the Commission’s ongoing effort to help stem the tide of pre-recorded telemarketing calls. It also includes new information to help educate consumers about illegal robocalls. In addition, the FTC continues to promote the development of technology-based solutions to block robocalls and combat caller ID spoofing.

“Operation Call it Quits” includes four new cases and three new settlements from the FTC alone. The U.S. Department of Justice filed two of the new cases on the FTC’s behalf. Collectively, the defendants in these cases were responsible for making more than a billion illegal robocalls to consumers nationwide. The announcement brings the number of cases the FTC has brought against illegal robocallers and Do Not Call violators to 145.

Stopping Unwanted Calls


Scammers can use technology to fake the name or number on your caller ID.  Even when your caller ID shows a local number, it could be a scammer calling from anywhere in the world. The good news: you can block many such calls with mobile apps, internet services, or call-blocking devices. Learn more at

COPPA Rule Comments and Workshop

In light of continued rapid changes in technology, the Federal Trade Commission is seeking comment on the effectiveness of the amendments the agency made to the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule (COPPA Rule) in 2013 and whether additional changes are needed.

The COPPA Rule, which first went into effect in 2000 to implement the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, requires certain websites and other online services that collect personal information from children under the age of 13 to provide notice to parents and obtain verifiable parental consent before collecting, using, or disclosing personal information from these children.

In a notice to be published shortly in the Federal Register, the FTC is seeking comment on a wide range of issues related to the COPPA Rule. In addition, the FTC will hold a public workshop on October 7, 2019 to examine the COPPA Rule. More details about the workshop can be found on the event page.

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