Bedbugs, penny auctions, gold buying-companies and solicitations for home improvement work disguised as “free” energy audits are among the newest complaints that local and state consumer protection agencies dealt with during the past 12 months, according to a survey released Tuesday.
The fastest-growing complaints in the survey by advocacy groups the Consumer Federation of America and the North American Consumer Protection Investigators involved debt collection abuses, Do Not Call list violations, mortgage-related problems and home improvement scams.
The report’s top 10 complaints include familiar issues, such as auto sales and repair and credit/debt issues. But a set of real estate related complaints cracked the top 10 for the first time covering issues with timeshare sales and resales, retirement and assisted living facilities and real estate fraud. The full top 10 list is below.
1. Auto: Misrepresentations in advertising or sales of new and used cars, lemons, faulty repairs, leasing and towing disputes.
2. Credit/Debt: Billing and fee disputes, mortgage modifications and mortgage-related fraud, credit repair, debt relief services, predatory lending, illegal or abusive debt collection tactics.
3. Home Improvement/Construction: Shoddy work, failure to start or complete the job.
4. Retail Sales: False advertising and other deceptive practices, defective merchandise, problems with rebates, coupons, gift cards and gift certificates, failure to deliver
5. Utilities: Service problems or billing disputes with phone, cable, satellite, Internet, electric and gas service.
6. Services: Misrepresentations, shoddy work, failure to have required licenses, failure to perform
7. (Tie) Internet Sales: Misrepresentations or other deceptive practice, failure to deliver online purchases; Landlord/Tenant: Unhealthy or unsafe conditions, failure to make repairs or provide promised amenities, deposit and rent disputes, illegal eviction tactics
8. Fraud: Bogus sweepstakes and lotteries, work-at-home schemes, grant offers, fake check scams, the grandparent scam and other common frauds
9. Real Estate: Timeshare sales and resales, retirement communities and assisted living facilities, real estate fraud
10. (Tie) Household Goods: Misrepresentations, failure to deliver, faulty repairs in connection with furniture or appliances; Home Solicitations: Misrepresentations or failure to deliver in door-to-door, telemarketing or mail solicitations, do-not-call violations