RALEIGH, NC (NEWS RELEASE) – A total of 21,879 consumers filed complaints with the Consumer Protection Division of Attorney General Roy Cooper’s Office in 2010. Cooper encouraged consumers to learn about the top sources of complaints as a way to avoid costly problems.
“We want to hear from consumers who don’t get what they paid for or encounter a scam. Better yet, we’d like to help you stay out of trouble by warning you about common consumer problems,” Cooper said.
While the overall number of complaints filed was down slightly from the 22,665 complaints received during the previous year, North Carolina consumers continue to identify problems in key areas in 2010.
For the sixth year in a row, health care complaints topped the list. A total of 4,605 consumers filed health care related complaints in 2010, compared to 4,371 complaints in 2009. Complaints about lending, the second leading source of complaints, were also up, with 3,909 complaints in 2010 compared to 3,357 in 2009. At number three, complaints about Do Not Call violators held steady at roughly 2,500 complaints.
Complaints about telemarketing fraud, collections and credit, motor vehicles, home furnishings, home repair, television services, and telecommunications rounded out the top ten. See the complete list of top ten consumer complaints of 2010.
“Unfortunately a down economy doesn’t discourage scammers, especially those that promise to help you get out of debt, negotiate a lower mortgage payment, get a job or make money working from home,” Cooper warned. “Educate yourself so you can avoid these scams, and let us know if you spot potential fraud so we can keep up our crackdown.”
Cooper offered the following tips to help North Carolinians avoid scams and bad deals:
If an offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
· Say “no” to high-pressure sales pitches. If the offer is only good today, walk away. Always read contracts carefully and never sign a document that you don’t understand or that has blanks to be filled in later.
· Be wary of unsolicited offers. Never give out your Social Security Number, credit card or bank account number or other personal information to anyone you don’t know who calls or emails you.
· North Carolina law makes it illegal to collect advance fees for some types of work, such as foreclosure assistance and debt settlement help. If an advance payment is required for other kinds of transactions, use a credit card if possible. This gives you some protection if your order doesn’t arrive.
· Do business with companies you know or which are recommended to you. Check companies out with the Attorney General’s Office or the Better Business Bureau before making major purchases.
· Join the Do Not Call registry to cut down on unwanted telemarketing calls. To sign up, call 1-888-382-1222 from the number you wish to register or by visit www.donotcall.gov. Once you’re on the list, report Do Not Call violators to the Attorney General’s Office.
· To protect yourself from identity theft, check your credit report regularly. You’re entitled to one free credit report per year from each nationwide credit bureau. To access your free credit reports, visit www.annualcreditreport.com or call 1-877-322-8228.
Cooper encourages consumers to visit www.ncdoj.gov for more consumer tips and tools. He shared the information about top complaint sources as part of National Consumer Protection Week.
North Carolina consumers who want to check up on 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.