The FTC takes in reports from consumers about problems they experience in the marketplace. The reports are stored in the Consumer Sentinel Network (Sentinel), a secure online database available only to law enforcement. While the FTC does not intervene in individual consumer disputes, its law enforcement partners – whether they are down the street, across the nation, or around the world – can use information in the database to spot trends, identify questionable business practices and targets, and enforce the law.
During 2018, Sentinel received nearly 3 million consumer reports, which the FTC has sorted into 29 top categories. The 2018 Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book (Sentinel Data Book) has aggregated information about what consumers told us last year on the full range of fraud, identity theft and other consumer protection topics.
This year, Consumer Sentinel data is also available online in an interactive format, with updates provided quarterly. The Sentinel Data Book is based on unverified reports filed by consumers. The data is not based on a consumer survey. Sentinel has a five-year data retention policy, with reports older than five years purged biannually.
Interactive data dashboards, with charts, data, and maps (Tableau Public)
Consumer Sentinel Data Book 2018 (PDF, 9 MB)
- Data Files (Zip archive, CSV files; 81 KB)
In addition to taking consumer reports directly from people who call the FTC’s call center or report online, Sentinel also includes reports filed with other federal, state, local, and international law enforcement agencies, as well as other organizations, like the Better Business Bureau and Publishers Clearing House. In 2018, the FTC was pleased to welcome the data contributions of the Nebraska Attorney General, New York State Attorney General, AARP FraudWatch Network, and Microsoft Corporation Cyber Crime Center. A full listing of data contributors is available in Appendix A3 and A4. Non-government organizations that contribute reports do not have access to Sentinel reports, as access is limited to law enforcement agencies.