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Web site protects military consumers

BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Military members, Department of Defense civilian employees, and their families, are targets of specific consumer fraud scams and face many consumer-related problems. 

In response, on September 24, 2002, in a joint unveiling with the DoD, the Federal Trade Commission launched the Military Sentinel public Web site, an initiative aimed at improving consumer protection for DoD personnel. 

The FTC designed the Military Sentinel to centralize the online collection of consumer fraud and identity theft complaints from DoD personnel, while providing easy access to consumer education and fraud prevention resources and materials. 

In the past two years, online complaints forwarded to the FTC have resulted in hundreds of consumer fraud investigations, and the return of millions of dollars to consumers. 

The Military Sentinel Web site is located at http://www.consumer.gov/military/. It is modeled after the FTC's central complaint database, the Consumer Sentinel, located at http://www.consumer.gov/sentinel/. 

However, only the Military Sentinel is capable of centralizing DoD complaints, and targeting specific business practices that affect military members and DoD civilian employees.

DoD personnel may file consumer fraud and identity theft complaints on the Military Sentinel public Web site from their personal computers, or seek advice from the base legal office at 720-847-6444. 

Simply click on "US Air Force" from the Military Sentinel site to file complaints (http://www.consumer.gov/military/airforce.htm). 

DoD complaints are forwarded to more than 550 law enforcement agencies in the US, Canada, and Australia, and are monitored according to branch of service and military installation. 

This centralization of complaints provides military members and DoD civilian employees with vital information to better protect them in the marketplace. For example, DoD complainants receive an FTC response tailored to their specific complaint. Also, the FTC will make available quarterly charts and graphs for the Military Sentinel showing consumer fraud and identity theft trends and their prevalence at every military installation. 

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