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Top ten consumer frauds of 2012
NEW YORK – Marking the start of National Consumer Protection Week, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman today released the list of the top ten consumer fraud complaints received by the Attorney General’s Office in 2012. In addition to highlighting the scams most reported by New Yorkers, the Attorney General offered tips on how to avoid them in the future.
“In these challenging economic times, it is more important than ever to protect consumers from the deceptive practices of unscrupulous corporations that try to lie, cheat and steal from hard working New Yorkers,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “My office will continue to send a message to businesses that consumers have rights and - if those rights are violated - we will come after you. It is important for consumers to not only know their rights, but how to fight back. In addition to taking action against those who cheat New Yorkers, this office is an excellent resource that can help stop scams before they start."
In 2012, internet-related complaints topped the list of the most common complaints (4,096), closely followed by credit-related complaints that involved debt collection, credit card billing and identity theft. Of the nearly 3,200 credit-related complaints, more than half of them (1,760 complaints) were filed against debt collectors who illegally threatened and harassed consumers.
In addition, the Attorney General's Office continues to receive a large number of mortgage-related complaints (over 1,500 complaints.) Attorney General Schneiderman said the complaints and calls to his office demonstrate the extent to which consumers who are struggling to stay on top of their mortgages are being targeted by fraudulent and unscrupulous loan modification consultants. In June of 2012, Attorney General Schneiderman announced the Homeowner Protection Program (HOPP), a $60 million program to fund legal service providers and housing counseling organizations serving at-risk homeowners across New York. Homeowners who need assistance can call 1-855-HOME-456 to be connected with a counselor within 24 hours.
The following is the 2012 list of the top ten consumer complaints by category:
CATEGORY NUMBER OF COMPLAINTS
1. Internet 4,096
(privacy issues; spyware;
2. Credit 3,167
(debt collection; credit card billing;
3. Automobile 2,950
(buying; leasing; repair;
service contracts; rentals)
4. Consumer-Related Services 2,070
(security systems; restaurant/catering
services; tech repairs; dating services)
5. Landlord / Tenant 1,808
(deposit releases; tenant-
6. Mortgage 1,511
(mortgage modifications; mortgage and
loan broker fraud; foreclosures)
7. Home Repair / Construction 1,125
(home improvement services not
delivered or done poorly)
8. Retail Sales 974
(any sale of goods: food; clothing;
rent to own; wholesale clubs)
9. Mail Order 868
(purchases made online
or from a catalog)
10. Telecommunications 805
(phone cards; cellular services;
pay-per-call; slamming; cramming)