Network News: Winter 2020

Winter 2020
Volume 13 | Issue 1
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Consumer Sentinal Network

Imposter Scams Take Top Spot in 2019 Fraud Reports


The new Sentinel Data Book shows that the FTC received 3.2 million reports about fraud, identity theft, and other consumer protection problems to its Consumer Sentinel Network in 2019. Reports from around the country about consumer protection issues are a key resource for law enforcement investigations to stop illegal activities and return money to consumers when possible.

The most common type of fraud reported to the FTC in 2019 was imposter scams; government imposter scams, in particular, were the most frequently reported, and up more than 50 percent since 2018. Of all reports received, the top categories were about identity theft, imposter scams, telephone and mobile services, online shopping, and credit bureaus.

Learn More About the Data

Law enforcement agencies regularly use the data in the Sentinel Data Book to examine reporting trends in their local areas.  But now we’re analyzing the information in innovative and interactive ways – and you can, too.  The FTC just released a video featuring Paul Witt, the Bureau of Consumer Protection’s Lead Data Analyst.  Give Paul two minutes, and he’ll walk you through how to use the new interactive Sentinel dashboards on

In the Spotlight

A new update from the Federal Trade Commission shows that fake check scams led to reported individual median losses of nearly $2,000 – individual losses far higher than on any other of the top ten scams reported to the FTC.  According to the new data analysis, consumers in their twenties are more than twice as likely as people 30 and older to report losing money to these scams.

The FTC’s latest Consumer Sentinel Data Spotlight identifies the most common ploys scammers are using with fake checks.  According to the spotlight, reports about fake check scams are up 65 percent since 2015, with losses of $28 million reported in 2019.

FTC Targets Free Cruise Robocall Operation

In January, the FTC announced charges against the operators of a “free cruise” telemarketing scheme that made millions of illegal robocalls and dialed numbers on the National Do Not Call Registry.  The callers also faked caller ID information so it looked like the call was coming from a local number.

Emergency Help


This past year has seen devastating wildfires, earthquakes, tornadoes and flooding, crippling snow and ice storms. These kinds of severe weather and natural disasters can occur anywhere — sometimes with little warning.  In these circumstances, how can consumers protect their personal information and finances from scammers who use weather emergencies to cheat people?

The FTC site Dealing with Weather Emergencies has practical tips to help you prepare for, deal with, and recover from a weather emergency.  Like all the FTC’s materials, the site is mobile-friendly, so you’ll have ready access to information when and where you need it.

You Don’t Say

On Tuesday, January 28, the FTC hosted “You Don’t Say: An FTC Workshop on Voice Cloning Technologies”.  The workshop explored the consumer protection implications of voice cloning technologies. The half-day workshop included panels discussing the pros and cons of voice cloning technology, the ethics surrounding its use, and ways to mitigate the risk that these technologies pose.  Panelists honed in on the medical benefits of the technology, while others identified concerns about its use in scams. Panelists also addressed the different applications being used to identify/authenticate voices.

National Consumer Protection Week

National Consumer Protection Week is March 1-7.  This is the time of year when government agencies and consumer protection groups work together to help people understand their consumer rights and make well-informed decisions about money and consumer rights.  Visit to find out how to get involved and reach out to your community.

Consumer Sentinel Network

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