WWW.Huh? New Site Compiles Military-Specific Consumer Complaints
By Kathleen T. Rhem
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Sept. 25, 2002 DoD and the Federal Trade Commission have teamed up to provide military and civilian personnel of the Defense Department an outlet for consumer complaints.
"Military personnel, DoD civilians and their families face unique challenges every day trying to deal with consumer protection issues," said Charles Abell, assistant secretary of defense for force management policy. Such issues, he said, include nonstandard work schedules, lengthy absences from home, frequent relocations, the privacy of personal information, and remote duty locations far from normal U.S. consumer protection channels.
"Military Sentinel will help us address these challenges by creating a database on which scam artists and others who seek to defraud individuals in the military community will be identified," Abell said in a Pentagon briefing with FTC Chairman Timothy Muris.
Muris explained the project has a threefold goal:
o It provides an outlet for DoD personnel to make consumer complaints "and be counted." Muris said the complaints are automatically added to the FTC's Consumer Sentinel, an "identity-theft-data clearinghouse."
o Data are also available in service-specific breakdowns to military law enforcement and legal agencies and to installation commanders. "In that way, frauds can be identified, shut down and ultimately prevented," Muris said.
o The site provides educational materials on consumer protections to military and DoD civilians and their families. "These include practical, plain-language tips on understanding credit and lending issues, avoiding work-at-home and advance-fee loan scams, and recognizing fraudulent offers whether they come through the mail, the telephone, or the Internet," Muris said.
All these features are available through the Military Sentinel site at www.consumer.gov/military.
Muris said the site is important because it helps protect the people who protect America.
"As we continue to rely on the men and women of the armed forces to protect our liberties, I am proud that the FTC is doing all we can to ensure that they receive the protection they need from unscrupulous businesses and scam artists," he said.