Cars, credit and home repair and construction once again topped the list of complaints made to state and local consumer protection agencies, according to a survey by the Consumer Federation of America (CFA) and the North American Consumer Protection Investigators (NACPI). Real estate problems made it to the top ten for the first time in many years.
The top five fastest-growing complaints were about fraud, debt collection abuses, Do Not Call violations, mortgage-related problems and home improvement. The top five worst complaints involved mortgage-related problems, home improvement, timeshare sales and resales, Internet sales and fraud.
Top Ten Complaints:
1. Auto: Misrepresentations in advertising or sales of new and used cars, lemons, faulty repairs, leasing and towing disputes.
2. 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.
3. Home Improvement/Construction: Shoddy work, failure to start or complete the job.
4. Retail Sales: False advertising and other deceptive practices, defective merchandise, problems with rebates, coupons, gift cards and gift certificates, failure to deliver.
5. Utilities: Service problems or billing disputes with phone, cable, satellite, Internet, electric and gas service.
6. Services: Misrepresentations, shoddy work, failure to have required licenses, failure to perform.
7. Internet Sales: Misrepresentations or other deceptive practice, failure to deliver online purchases; Landlord/Tenant: Unhealthy or unsafe conditions, failure to make repairs or provide promised amenities, deposit and rent disputes, illegal eviction tactics.
8. Fraud: Bogus sweepstakes and lotteries, work-at-home schemes, grant offers, fake check scams, the grandparent scam and other common frauds.
9. Real Estate: Timeshare sales and resales, retirement communities and assisted living facilities, real estate fraud.
10. Household Goods: Misrepresentations, failure to deliver, faulty repairs in connection with furniture or appliances; Home Solicitations: Misrepresentations or failure to deliver in door-to-door, telemarketing or mail solicitations, do-not-call violations.
Thirty-eight agencies from across the United States provided information about the most common, fastest-growing and worst complaints they received in 2011. They were also asked about new types of consumer problems, what their biggest achievements and challenges were last year and what new laws are needed to better protect consumers.
The agencies also provided suggestions for strengthening consumer protection, including prohibiting mandatory arbitration in consumer contracts, providing consumers with greater legal protection from unwanted online tracking and creating the equivalent of Interpol to help U.S. law enforcement agencies take action against scammers located in other countries.
Belsky, Weinberg & Horowitz has represented consumers in bankruptcy, debt collection and mortgage cases for many years. Call us at 410-234-0100 or email us for a free consultation and let us help you.