Network News: Autumn 2020

Autumn 2020
Volume 13 | Issue 4
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Consumer Sentinal Network


The FTC is launching, the overhaul of our online complaint portal.  Over a year in the making, this improved portal will make it easier for consumers to file complaints and to receive tailored advice and consumer educational materials. The reports that go into will be made available to our Sentinel users.  The improvements will make more data available to law enforcers, such as the name of the platform where consumers saw an ad. The new site focuses on how reporting fraud helps the whole community, as our video shows.

This improved portal will contribute to what is now becoming the largest expansion of consumer reporting data in the history of Sentinel.  We are adding data contributors and look forward to the Social Security Administration’s Office of Inspector General joining us this month.  If your agency is interested in contributing data, please contact us at     

Sentinel Success Story

This summer, as a result of a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigation (HSI) under Operation Stolen Promise, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) obtained a temporary restraining order in federal court to combat fraud related to the COVID-19 pandemic.  HSI used Sentinel to identify injured consumers.  The enforcement action, filed in Tampa, Florida, is part of the Justice Department’s ongoing efforts prioritizing the detection, investigation and prosecution of illegal conduct related to the pandemic.  DOJ brought the action based on an investigation conducted by HSI in Tampa, in coordination with HSI Attaché Ho Chi Minh City, the Cyber Crimes Center, and the Vietnam Ministry of Public Security.  The DOJ press release has full details.

Operation Corrupt Collector

Operation Corrupt Collector is a coast-to-coast crackdown by the FTC, three other federal agencies, and partners from 16 states.  Operation Corrupt Collector encompasses more than 50 actions challenging some of the worst-of-the-worst debt collection tactics, including phantom debt collection – the practice of coercing consumers to pay debts that they don’t owe or that the company has no right to collect.  Learn more here.  And check out our new interactive debt collection infographic for statistics about debt collection problems in your state or metro area.

Second Group of Western Union Refunds


Refund checks worth about $147 million are going out to almost 33,000 people who sent money to scammers through Western Union wire transfers. The $147 million is a portion of the money Western Union paid when it reached settlements with the FTC and DOJ, agreeing to create a strong anti-fraud program.  This is the second distribution of settlement funds in 2020, bringing the total amount distributed to more than $300 million. Western Union admitted to criminal violations in its DOJ settlement.  Full details are here

Data Portability Workshop

The Federal Trade Commission recently held a workshop that examined the potential benefits and challenges to consumers, privacy, and competition raised by data portability, which is the ability of consumers to move data from one service to another or to themselves.  The event featured remarks by FTC Bureau of Consumer Protection Director Andrew Smith and FTC Bureau of Competition Director Ian Conner, as well as panel discussions featuring academics, government officials, industry representatives, and consumer advocates.

No, Our Chairman is Not Writing You


If you saw an email from FTC Chairman Joseph Simons, it wasn’t from him.  Scammers pretending to be him are emailing, though. They’re trying to trick you into turning over personal information, like your birthdate and home address, which could help them scam you.  If you get an email from the Chairman about getting money because of an inheritance or relief funds related to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic — or anything else — do not respond.  Do not give out your personal information.  But do please tell us at  Your reports help us find and stop scammers just like these.  Reporting and talking about this and other scams helps protect people in your community.  Thank you for helping to spread the word.

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