Network News: Autumn 2021

Autumn 2021
Volume 14 | Issue 4
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Consumer Sentinal Network

Help Improve Sentinel: Join New Working Groups


This autumn, the Sentinel Team is forming working groups to improve its registration process and Help site.  Please consider participating in one or more of our working groups.  It’s easy and doesn’t require preparation or a lot of time.  You would simply join a WebEx session and tell us what you think about our proposed improvements.  The three sessions below are on different topics and will all be conducted at 1:00 pm EST and last no longer than one hour.  To participate, please email and let us know which groups interest you.  

October 27th: Working Group on how agencies register for Sentinel

November 17th: Working Group on how individuals register for Sentinel

December 1st: Working Group on improving the Sentinel help site

Sentinel Success Story

The Sentinel Team, along with other FTC colleagues, helped the U.S. Department of Justice obtain partial summary judgment in its case against Inc., a California-based purveyor of background reports, and its CEO Jeffrey Tinsley. 

In the lawsuit, the DOJ alleged that and Tinsley deceived consumers with “teaser” background reports that falsely claimed that a subject of search “may have” records of arrest, criminal, and sexual offenses, potential bankruptcies, liens, or legal judgments. frequently featured negative teaser background reports even when the subject of the search had no history of criminal offenses or traffic violations.  In the case, the DOJ used thousands of Sentinel complaints as evidence.

In the Spotlight

Has Amazon contacted you to confirm a recent purchase you didn’t make or to tell you that your account has been hacked? According to the FTC’s new Data Spotlight, since July 2020, about one in three people who have reported a business impersonator scam say the scammer pretended to be Amazon.

Econsumer at 20 and New Language Added

A very happy 20th birthday to the Econsumer Team!  Today, consumer protection agencies in more than 40 countries participate in, which gathers and shares cross-border e-commerce complaints.  It also permits international agencies to have Sentinel access to Econsumer complaints.


FTC Testimony on Protecting Older Americans

The FTC recently testified to the Senate on the agency’s efforts to protect older adults.  The FTC highlighted that during 2020 older consumers filed 334,411 fraud reports in Sentinel, with reported losses of more than $600 million. Because the vast majority of frauds are not reported to the government, these numbers represent only a fraction of the older adults harmed by fraud.

Outreach Update and New Milestone

In Fiscal Year 2021, 50 new agencies joined Sentinel, and the program reached the highest average user volume ever (nearly 3,000 users).  To make sure users are getting the most out of Sentinel tools, we held 28 outreach and Sentinel training events reaching more than 700 law enforcers.  Most of these events were to train law enforcement on using Sentinel to investigate COVID-related fraud.  In addition to general multi-user sessions, there were specialized training sessions for the Canada Office of the Privacy Commissioner, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the Delaware Department of Justice, and Cobb County, Georgia.  

Pick up some tips and get your questions answered at our next monthly training session  on Wednesday, November 3rd at 12:00 p.m.  Please email to register. 

The Training Program Trap


Some consumers are interested in training programs to learn how to invest in real estate or start an online business.  Unfortunately, some of these programs can make false promises. The FTC’s Office of Claims and Refunds is sending 8,843 checks to people who were harmed by a company that charged them money for “funding” to pay for expensive and often ineffective training programs, but instead opened multiple credit card accounts in their names.

According to the FTC's complaint, Seed Consulting, LLC was pitched by training companies as a way to get “funding” to people who wanted to start a business or become a real estate investor. The complaint alleged that Seed Consulting is not a lender and didn’t actually provide funding. Instead, the company charged people $3,000 or more to apply for numerous credit cards on their behalf, with total credit lines of more than $50,000.  Seed Consulting also did business as Seed Capital and Foundation Funding.

Honest Opinions Only

The FTC sent a “Notice of Penalty Offenses” to more than 700 large companies, top advertisers, leading retailers, well-known consumer product companies, and major advertising agencies.  In doing so, it warned businesses that the endorsements they use to help sell their products must reflect the actual experience and opinions of real people who used them as opposed to fake online reviews and other deceptive endorsements. 

Charity Fraud Awareness Week

The FTC joins charity regulators from around the world this week to raise awareness about charity fraud.

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