Misrepresentations in ads by auto dealers and shoddy home-improvement jobs lead the list of top consumer complaints, according to the latest report from the Consumer Federation of America (CFA) and the North American Consumer Protection Investigators (NACPI).
Meanwhile, do-not-call violations and other telemarketing abuses, fueled by new technology, were the fastest-growing complaints in 2013, according to the annual survey of state and local consumer protection agencies.
Forty agencies from 23 states responded to the survey about the complaints they received last year.
“Despite the national do-not-call registry, strict rules concerning robocalls, and other protections, unwanted and fraudulent phone calls are still plaguing American consumers,” said Susan Grant, Director of Consumer Protection at CFA.
Advancing technology, including Internet phone service, caller ID spoofing software, prepaid cell phones that scammers buy anonymously and discard, auto-dialers and other technology, make it easy and inexpensive for crooks to contact U.S. consumers from anywhere in the world, said Amber Capoun, NACPI President and a Legal Assistant in the Office of the State Banking Commission in Kansas.
Here are the Top Ten Complaints of last year:
1. Auto: Misrepresentations in advertising or sales of new and used cars, lemons, faulty repairs, leasing and towing disputes
2. Home Improvement/Construction: Shoddy work, failure to start or complete the job
3. Credit/Debt: Billing and fee disputes, mortgage modifications and mortgage-related fraud, credit repair, debt relief services, predatory lending, illegal or abusive debt collection tactics
4. Retail Sales: False advertising and other deceptive practices, defective merchandise, problems with rebates, coupons, gift cards and gift certificates, failure to deliver
5. Services: Misrepresentations, shoddy work, failure to have required licenses, failure to perform
6. Utilities: Service problems or billing disputes with phone, cable, satellite, Internet, electric and gas service
7. Landlord/Tenant: Unhealthy or unsafe conditions, failure to make repairs or provide promised amenities, deposit and rent disputes, illegal eviction tactics
8. (tie) Home Solicitations: Misrepresentations or failure to deliver in door-to-door, telemarketing or mail solicitations, do-not-call violations
8. (tie) Internet Sales: misrepresentations or other deceptive practices, failure to deliver online purchases
9. Health Products/Services: Misleading claims, unlicensed practitioners, failure to deliver
10. Fraud: Bogus sweepstakes and lotteries, work-at-home schemes, grant offers, fake check scams, imposter scams and other common frauds
The top five fastest-growing complaints in 2013 were:
1. Violations of do-not-call rights and other telemarketing abuses
2. Home improvement and construction
3. Used car sales
4. Utility billing issues
5. Internet sales