FTC's Consumer Sentinel will teach public about fraud

FTC's Consumer Sentinel will teach public about fraud

By Patricia Daukantas

GCN Staff

FEB. 5—Federal Trade Commission officials hope a new Web site focusing on consumer fraud and identity theft will increase public awareness of common swindles.

The Consumer Sentinel site, at www.consumer.gov/sentinel, garnered 20,000 hits during its first week online, project manager Bob Kuykendall said. He is a Postal Inspection Service officer who has worked on assignment at FTC for the past year.

The File a Complaint button takes users to a Secure Sockets Layer-protected form. Fraud victims can report scams and solicitations to FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection.

Under Fraud Trends, FTC displays state-by-state statistics of identity theft, telemarketing scams and other consumer ripoffs. The section contains only three charts, but more information will be added in the next few weeks, Kuykendall said.

The site grew out of a database that FTC launched in 1997 to compile fraud reports from multiple law enforcement agencies and nongovernment organizations, such as the Better Business Bureau.

Participating law enforcement officers have direct access, through a private Web site, to the Consumer Sentinel database, which uses Oracle8 software, Kuykendall said.

The 250 contributors to the database include 46 federal agencies and offices. Government agencies and commissions in Canada and Australia also participate, and Kuykendall said more countries will join the project in the coming months.

FTC and the Defense Department are creating a similar site, dubbed Soldier Sentinel, that will focus on anti-fraud and consumer protection issues that affect military personnel and their families, Kuykendall said.

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