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Top 10 consumer problems of 2015

Have you ever received an unexpected call from the IRS, a utility company, or tech support demanding immediate payment or your personal information? “Don’t assume that it’s true,” says Susan Grant, director of consumer protection and privacy at the Consumer Federation of America (CFA). Imposter scams were the fastest-growing complaints to state and local consumer protection agencies last year, according to a just-released annual survey report from CFA and the North American Consumer Protection Investigators.

The report also details real-life stories describe problems with everything from gravestones that were paid for but not delivered, to tax identity theft, to home improvements that never were completed, to timeshare resale rip-offs. Here is the rundown of the most common complaints reported to state and local consumer protection agencies last year:

10. Internet sales and fraud: Internet sales and fraud were tied at number 10. Internet sales problems involve misrepresentations or other deceptive practices and failure to deliver online purchases. Fraud includes bogus sweepstakes and lotteries, work-at-home schemes, grant offers, fake check scams, imposter scams and other common frauds.

9. Health products and services: These include misleading claims, unlicensed practitioners, and failure to deliver.

8. Household goods: Schemes involving household goods include misrepresentations, failure to deliver, and faulty repairs to furniture and appliances.

7. Landlord/Tenant: These complaints include unhealthy or unsafe conditions, failure to make repairs or provide promises amenities, deposit and rent disputes, and illegal eviction tactics.

6. Services: Complaints regarding services can be misrepresentations, shoddy work, failure to have required licenses, and failure to perform.

5. Retail Sales: Halfway through the list are retails sales, which can mean false advertising and other deceptive practices; defective merchandise; problems with rebates, coupons, gift cards, or gift certificates; and failure to deliver.

4. Credit/Debt: Credit and debt complaints refer to billing and fee disputes, mortgage modifications and mortgage-related fraud, credit repair, debt relief services, predatory lending, and illegal or abuse debt collection tactics.

3. Utilities: Bringing us into the top three are service problems or billing disputes with phone, cable, satellite, Internet, electric, and gas services.

2. Home Improvement/Construction: The runner up for the most complaints includes shoddy work, and failure to start or complete home improvement jobs.

1. Auto: The top consumer complaints are misrepresentations in advertising or sales of new and used cars, lemons, faulty repairs, and leasing or towing disputes.

To learn more about these kinds of complaints and what you should do if you’re in a similar situation, download the report.


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