North Carolina Department of Justice

North Carolina Department of Justice

North Carolina Department of Justice
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Top Ten Consumer Complaints of 2014

Wednesday, April 01, 2015


Last year, 21,305 consumers filed complaints with Attorney General Roy Cooper’s Consumer Protection Division. To file a complaint or get tips on avoiding problems, visit www.ncdoj.gov or call 1-877-5-NO-SCAM.  Here are the top consumer complaints of 2014:
 
1.            Do Not Call: A total of 5,254 North Carolina consumers filed complaints about unwanted calls from telemarketers last year.  The majority of complaints came from consumers who had listed their telephone number on the Do Not Call Registry but still got unwanted calls.  Many of the complaints are about illegal robocalls, which begin with a recorded message that asks consumers to press a number to speak with a representative.  Common robocalls include pitches for lower interest rates on credit cards, medical alert systems home alarm systems. To cut down on unwanted sales calls, join the Do Not Call Registry and then report violators
 
2.            Telemarketing Fraud: We received 4,460 complaints about telemarketing fraud last year. Scammers usually located outside the U.S. try to lure consumers into giving up their money and their personal information.  Some of the most popular telemarketing schemes include phony IRS/Treasury calls, threats of utility shutoff scams, grandparent and sweetheart scams, lotteries and sweepstakes.  Telemarketing scammers now frequently use technology to hide their location and manipulate what shows up on consumers’ Caller ID.
 
3.            Lending: 3,678 people complained to us about lenders last year, including problems with high interest rates, charges for late or missed payments, expensive Internet payday loans, adjustable rate mortgages, and loan fees. Many consumers need help dealing with foreclosure, or have fallen for a foreclosure assistance or loan modification scam.  It’s against North Carolina law to charge an upfront fee for foreclosure help.  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.  
 
4.               Motor Vehicles: 1,392 consumers who had problems with car repair and purchases filed complaints with our office in 2014.  Common complaints include mechanical problems with used cars, difficulties getting a car title when the dealership has gone out of business, and failure to honor warranties.  People also complain about car repairs, especially pricing, improper diagnosis, unauthorized repairs, and slow repair jobs.
 
5.            Home Repair:  We received 1,378 complaints about home construction and repair work.  Consumers complain about shoddy work as well as contractors who abandon the job after getting paid, miss deadlines, or go over budget.  For example, in 2014, Cooper’s Consumer Protection Division filed suit against the owners of American Kitchen after hearing from dozens of consumers who lost more than $300,000 from unfinished kitchen remodels. 
 
6.            Credit: 1,106 North Carolinians filed complaints about credit repair scams, incorrect credit reports, debt collectors and identity theft.  Under North Carolina law, it’s illegal to charge an upfront fee for credit repair or debt settlement help.  Consumers also complain about threatening calls from debt collectors as well as calls about debts that aren’t really theirs.  Identity thieves continue to steal personal financial information and use it to run up debts and commit fraud in someone else’s name.
 
7.            Internet/Computers: 1,022 consumers complained about Internet service providers, unsolicited e-mails, computers, computer software, and Internet auctions as well as merchandise they ordered online that was never delivered.
 
8.            Health Care: In 2014, a total of 920 people filed complaints about health care.  Common complaints include problems with charges for weight loss products, hearing aids, and other medical equipment.  Consumers also have problems with medical billing or collection practices and overcharges for medical services. 
 
9.       Television Services: We heard from 777 consumers last year about service and billing problems with their cable or satellite television. The Consumer Protection Division is authorized by statute to handle only complaints about state-issued cable franchises.
 
10.     Telecommunications: We fielded 545 complaints from consumers about cell phones and telephones.  Consumers complained about cell phone service contracts and service and extra fees added to cell phone bills for unauthorized services, like apps and ringtones.  Cooper’s office reached a settlement with major cell phone providers AT&T and T-Mobile over this practice known as cramming.