Identity Theft and Consumer Fraud Investigations: Free Resources for Law Enforcement

Identity Theft and Consumer Fraud Investigations
Duration: 60 Minutes
Module 1 Resources
Recorded on: 2019-02-14
Unit 1 Slide Deck: Identity Theft and Consumer Fraud Investigations
Unit 2 Workbook: Identity Theft and Consumer Fraud Investigations
Unit 3 Recording: Identity Theft and Consumer Fraud Investigations

As technology advances, so shall opportunistic individuals who will find ways to conquer the system for selfish interests. In 2016, 26 million fall victim to identity theft with a total financial loss of $17.5 billion. In 2017, there are 1.1 million fraud reports collated by the Federal Trade Commission’s Consumer Sentinel Network in the US alone. These staggering numbers only highlight the need to raise awareness and practice constant vigilance on the cases of identity theft and consumer fraud.

Today’s resource speakers, Nick Mastrocinque and Seena Gressin, will walk us through these topics – zeroing in on initiatives that aim to assist those who have been targeted and prevent future victimization. Nick is the Manager of the Consumer Sentinel Network and teaches at various colleges and universities on topics related to criminal justice, ethics, leadership, instructor development and hundreds of academically based and homeland security preparedness classes. Meanwhile, Seena is an attorney in the Federal Trade Commission’s Division of Consumer and Business Education focusing on the areas of identity theft and fraud prevention. She has litigated numerous cases involving deceptive debt collection practices, imposter scams, and telemarketing and business opportunity fraud.

On this course, Nick and Seena shine the spotlight on the Federal Trade Commission’s Consumer Sentinel Network and how this initiative aims to educate, prevent and aid victims of identity theft and consumer fraud. The discussion revolves around:

  • An overview of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and their mission to protect consumers and fair competition in the marketplace.
  • Statistics that illustrate the extent of identity theft and consumer fraud cases reported.
  • FTC’s Consumer Sentinel Network that allows:
    • Do-it-yourself real-time reporting of consumer complaints.
    • Provides members of the network access to complaints to make them more effective through intelligence sharing.
  • A walk through of the FTC website and the Sentinel page including:
    • How to file a complaint and why the FTC encourages more reporting to better inform law enforcement of the magnitude and tactics being employed in these incidents.
    • The Sentinel’s Members’ Access area where you can view databases and reports for:
      • The members of the network.
      • Statistics on the reports both topline and in segments.
      • The data sources/contributors.
      • Data visualizations and interactive dashboards via Tableau.
    • Sentinel’s secure access network and features as:
      • Database keyword search and filter options.
      • Search results breakdown and segmentation.
      • Summary statistics and individual case reports.
      • Advanced data tools such as the wordcloud and heatmap.
      • Explore complaint relationships that skims the reports for correlations.
      • Data spotlight to see movements and trends in the reports.
      • Member search.
    • Available resources for victim assistance and community outreach such as:
      • gov, the one-stop resource to help identity theft victims report incidents and provide a detailed recovery plan with a step-by-step process, templates, forms, and reminders for the victim.
      • Pass It On, a consumer education program for active older adults who are often targeted for fraud to acquaint them with the most common scams and tactics available in various formats.
      • gov’s Bulk Order page that allows law enforcement to order educational materials for free to raise awareness on common identity theft and fraud scams and campaigns.
    • During the Q&A, Nick and Seena provided clarifications on the audience’s inquiries on:
      • How to join the Sentinel network.
      • Using information from Sentinel for public dissemination.
      • The capabilities of Sentinel’s Data Spotlight reports.
      • Persecution of identity theft and fraud suspects.
      • Who can report incidents to Sentinel.
      • Complaints related to smart devices.
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