The U.S. Federal Trade Commission launched a new Web site Monday to educate consumers about online fraud and theft. The site, www.consumer.gov/sentinel, contains aggregated complaint information from a database of more than 300,000 consumer complaints lodged with the FTC. People who visit the site can view data about the most frequently reported scams, scams that cost consumers the most, identity theft and the locations of companies complained about. The Web site is partnered with 250 U.S. and international law enforcement agencies, and consumers can file complaints through the site.
The data provided on the site is valuable to online retailers as well as consumers. Retailers who do business online, either buying or selling, or use online auctions face many of the same scams as consumers. Knowing the facts about online fraud can also help retailers reassure their online customers who may be concerned about the safety of buying online.
In another attempt to educate consumers about Internet safety, the Federal Consumer Information Center has put together a publication package about using Internet auctions and shopping online. The package, which includes "Internet Auctions: A Guide for Buyers and Sellers" and "Shop Safely Online," is available online at www.pueblo.gsa.gov or by calling (888) 878-3256.
- by Julia M. Duncan