NC Attorney General releases top 10 consumer complaints of 2012
Attorney General Roy Cooper’s Consumer Protection Division received 23,205 consumer complaints last year. The list of the top 10 complaints appears below:
1. Do Not Call: A total of 6,126 North Carolina consumers filed complaints about unwanted calls from telemarketers last year. The majority of complaints came from consumers who had listed their telephone number on the Do Not Call Registry but still received unwanted calls. Among the top sources of complaints are calls pitching credit cards with lower interest rates and alarm systems. Many of these use illegal robocalls which ask consumers to press a number to speak with a representative. To cut down on unwanted sales calls, join the Do Not Call Registry and then report violators. Sign up at www.donotcall.gov or call 1-888-382-1222 from the number you wish to register.2. Lending: 4,314 people complained to us about lenders last year. Complaints often include problems with high interest rates, charges for late or missed payments, adjustable rate mortgages, prepayment penalties and loan fees. Many consumers are looking for help dealing with foreclosure, or have fallen for a foreclosure assistance or loan modification scam. It’s against North Carolina law to charge an upfront fee for foreclosure help. For free help dealing with foreclosure, homeowners can contact the State Home Foreclosure Prevention Project by calling 1-888-442-8188 or 1-888-623-8631.3. Telemarketing Fraud: We received 3,418 complaints about telemarketing fraud last year. The Federal Trade Commission estimates that fraudulent telemarketers take as much as $40 billion a year from unsuspecting U.S. consumers. Scammers often located outside the U.S. try to lure consumers into giving up their money and their personal information. Some of the most popular telemarketing schemes include sweepstakes and lotteries, sweetheart scams, phony government grants, advanced fee loans, mystery shoppers, grandparent scams, and counterfeit check scams.4. Health Care: In 2012, a total of 1,663 people filed complaints about health insurance, medical providers, and health products and services. Common complaints include problems with charges for weight loss products, hearing aids, and medical equipment. Consumers also have problems with medical billing or collection practices and being overcharged for medical services. In July 2012, the Managed Care Patient Assistance Program was transferred to the North Carolina Department of Insurance. Consumers can now file complaints about their health insurance with Health Insurance Smart NC by calling 877-885-0231.5. Home Repair: We received 1,477 complaints about home construction and repair work. Most consumers who complain are dissatisfied with work done on their homes. Other common sources of complaints are contractors who abandon the job after getting paid, miss deadlines, or go over budget. There are also scam artists who target homeowners, especially seniors, attempting to talk them into a series of expensive and unnecessary repairs.6. Motor Vehicles: 1,402 consumers who had problems with car repair and purchases filed complaints with our office in 2012. Common complaints include mechanical problems with used cars, difficulties obtaining a car title when the dealership has gone out of business, and failure to honor warranties. People also complain about pricing, improper diagnosis, unauthorized repairs, and slow repair jobs.7. Credit and Collections: 1,387 North Carolinians filed complaints about credit repair scams, debt collectors and identity theft. Complaints about scams that promise to fix your credit or settle your debts for an upfront fee continue to rise. Under North Carolina law, it’s illegal to charge an upfront fee for credit repair or debt settlement help. Consumers also complain about threatening calls from debt collectors. People also get calls about debts that aren’t really theirs, as identity thieves continue to steal personal financial information and use it to run up debts and commit fraud in someone else’s name.8. Television Services: We heard from 944 consumers last year about problems with their cable or satellite television service. Most consumers complained about service and billing issues. The Consumer Protection Division is authorized by statute to handle only complaints about state-issued cable franchises.9. Internet/Computers: 845 consumers complained about Internet service providers, unsolicited e-mails, computers, computer software, and Internet auctions as well as merchandise they ordered online that was never delivered.10. Telecommunications: We fielded 747 complaints from consumers about issues with their telephone or cell phone. Many people complain that packages that bundled phone service with other services don’t provide the savings they were expecting. People also have problems with cell phone bills, poor cell service, and the cramming of unauthorized charges onto their phone bills.