AG Cooper shares top ten consumer complaints for 2015

AG Cooper shares top ten consumer complaints for 2015

By / State News / Tuesday, 12 April 2016 04:00

Telemarketing, lending continue to top the list of complaints

RALEIGH, N.C. : March 9th, 2016 -  Complaints about telemarketing fraud, unwanted sales calls and lending lead the list of consumer complaints to the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division, Attorney General Roy Cooper announced today.
“Learning about common sources of consumer complaints can help you avoid pitfalls and save money, Cooper said. “My office is here to help North Carolina consumers when you need us, but we’d rather prevent these problems from happening in the first place.”
Cooper and his consumer protection experts have helped consumers get hundreds of millions of dollars of their money back. Last year, 19,088 consumers filed written complaints with the Consumer Protection Division of Cooper’s office, down from 21,305 complaints in 2015.
The top ten list is based on written complaints filed with the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division. Tens of thousands of North Carolina consumers also get help from consumer protection experts from the office over the phone and by email, from tips available online at ncdoj.gov, and at educational events across the state.
Number 1: Telemarketing fraud
Complaints about telemarketing fraud come in at number one, up from second place the previous year. In 2014, Cooper’s office received 5,819 complaints about fraudulent phone calls seeking money or personal information. Criminals and con artists usually located in other countries make the calls and pose as IRS agents, law enforcement, tech support and utility companies to try to rob victims. Other common telemarketing scams include sweepstakes, lotteries, sweetheart scams and grandparent scams.
Cooper’s office partners with other states as well as local, federal and international law enforcement to try to locate and stop telemarketing fraud rings, and experts with Cooper’s office work with victims to try to reduce their losses and prevent follow up scams.
To avoid telemarketing scams:
• Never pay money to or share personal financial information with someone you don’t know who calls you on the phone, no matter who they claim to be.
• Don’t rely on Caller ID to decide if a caller is legitimate because scammers can use technology to make it look like their calls are coming from a legitimate business, a local phone number, or even the IRS or police.
Number 2: Do Not Call violations
Complaints about Do Not Call violations by telemarketers were second on the list with 3,492 complaints. These include complaints from consumers who get unwanted telemarketing sales calls even after placing their number on the Do Not Call Registry as well as complaints about illegal prerecorded calls (robocalls). Common robocalls include pitches for lower interest rates on credit cards, medical alert systems, and home alarm systems. The Consumer Protection Division has been able to use consumers’ complaints to identify the culprits behind some illegal calls and take action against them. For example, Cooper recently partnered with the Federal Trade Commission and other states to go to trial against DISH Network over millions of telemarketing calls made on the satellite TV company’s behalf.
To cut down on unwanted sales calls:
• List your home and mobile telephone numbers on the Do Not Call Registry  and then report violators to our office by calling 1-877-5-NO-SCAM or filing a consumer complaint online at ncdoj.gov.
• Hang up on robocalls and don’t press a number when prompted to. Pressing a number to get more information or try to stop the calls confirms your phone number is valid and is likely to result in more calls.
• Ask your telephone company about technology to block robocalls.
Number 3: Lending
Complaints about lending were number three on the list for 2015, with 2,526 complaints total. Common problems include high interest rates, charges for late or missed payments, foreclosure relief and loan modification scams, adjustable rate mortgages, prepayment penalties and loan fees.
Expensive online loans are another source of lending complaints. Payday loans are illegal in North Carolina, and Cooper and the NC Commissioner of Banks forced the last storefront payday lenders out of the state in 2006. But lenders outside the state continue to try to reach North Carolina consumers through the Internet. For example, consumers complained that Western Sky/CashCall charged them interest rates of more than 300 percent, and Cooper won a court order to stop the online fast cash lender from making or collecting on loans in North Carolina.
 To avoid problems with loans:
•  Shop around with several lenders before you take out any kind of loan, and be sure to compare all costs and fees. In particular, look at the annual percentage rate (APR) and the monthly payment.
• Beware offers of help from anyone who tells you to stop paying your mortgage and pay them instead. It’s against North Carolina law to charge an upfront fee for foreclosure or loan modification assistance.
• 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.  
Other top sources of complaints
Complaints about motor vehicles, home repair, credit and collections, health care, Internet and computers, furniture, and telecommunications round out the list of top ten consumer complaints for 2015. The complete list of top ten consumer complaints of 2015 is available at ncdoj.gov along with our top ten consumer tips.
“If you think you’ve been ripped off or spotted a scam, let my office know about it,” Cooper urged consumers. “We’ll work to resolve you problem, and the information you share will also help us warn and educate other consumers.”
North Carolina consumers who want to check out a business, get tips or file a complaint can contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division. Call 1-877-5-NO-SCAM toll-free within North Carolina or submit a complaint online. Once a consumer files a written complaint, our office can try to help resolve the situation. In cases where there is a pattern of illegal business practices, the Attorney General may also take action to enforce the law on behalf of all North Carolina consumers.
Source: North Carolina Department of Justice.

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