RALEIGH -- Protecting yourself and your money during tough financial times -- that's the message from Attorney General Roy Cooper as he released the list of top ten consumer complaints of 2007. Topping the list for the fourth year in a row was health care. Nearly 5,000 North Carolinians filed complaints about health insurance, doctors, dentists, opticians, hospitals, pharmacies and nursing homes. Coming in a close second was do not call/unwanted telemarketing calls. Be aware: one overseas scammer is trying to lure victims by promising lower credit card interest rates. With the mortgage crisis right now it's little surprise complaints about lenders came in third. Complaints run the gamut and usually involve high interest rates, ARMs and loan fees. Nearly 2,000 residents filed complaints about debt collection and identity theft. Threatening phone calls from debt collectors was a top complaint. Rounding out the top five is problems with motor vehicles. People filed complaints with the AG about unauthorized car repairs and new and used car purchases. A little more than 1,000 people complained about their telephone or cell phone, including poor cell service or billing problems. A common complaint is "cramming," when a company tries to sneak unauthorized charges on a phone bill and "slamming," when a consumer's telephone carrier is changed without consent. Telemarketing fraud comes in at number seven, which includes bogus lottery tickets, advance fee loans and phony prizes or sweepstakes. Home furnishings came in at number eight; most of these involved out of state consumers complaining about NC retailers. Be careful who you hire to make home repairs. At number nine: hundreds of people complained about contractors who took the money but never did the work, missed deadlines or did shoddy repairs. Top ten on the list is internet and computers. Be aware of counterfeit check scams involving online sales. Don't be fooled, if someone sends you a check for more than the purchase price and asks you to wire back the extra money don't cash it. The checks are usually fake.
If you've experienced a problem you can file a complaint with Attorney General Roy Cooper's Consumer Protection Office. Just call 1-877-5-NO-SCAM.