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Top 10 consumer frauds of 2013; internet, automobile, credit issues, top A.G. list

NEW YORK – Marking the start of National Consumer Protection Week, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman released the list of the top 10 consumer fraud complaints received by the Attorney General’s Office in 2013. In addition to highlighting the scams most reported by New Yorkers, the Attorney General offered tips on how to avoid them in the future. 

“My office will use every legal tool at our disposal to hold fraudsters and unscrupulous businesses accountable, and to protect consumers from their deceptive practices” said Schneiderman. “I encourage all New Yorkers who feel they have been victims of fraud to contact my office and take all necessary precautions to prevent scams before they start.”

In 2013, internet-related complaints topped the list (4,753), followed by automobile-related scams and credit-related complaints that involved debt collection, credit card billing and identity theft, with 2614 and 2295 complaints respectively. 

In addition, the Attorney General's Office continues to receive a large number of mortgage-related complaints (more than 1,700). 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 2012, 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.

2013 LIST OF THE TOP 10 CONSUMER COMPLAINTS BY CATEGORY

NUMBER OF COMPLAINTS

1. Internet
(privacy issues; spyware; consumer frauds) 

4,753

2. Automobile
(buying; leasing; repair; service contracts; rentals)

2,614

3. Credit 
(debt collection; credit card billing;  debt settlement; payday loans; credit repair; credit reporting agencies; identity theft)

2,295

4. Consumer-Related Services 
(security systems; restaurant/catering services; tech repairs; dating services)  

2,158

5. Mortgage
(mortgage modifications; mortgage and loan broker fraud; foreclosures)

1,748

6. Landlord / Tenant
(deposit releases; tenant harassment)

1,733

7. Furniture / Major Household Appliances

1,168

8. Home Repair / Construction
(home improvement services not delivered or done poorly)

995

9. Retail Sales
(any sale of goods: food; clothing; rent to own; wholesale clubs; price gouging)

913

10. Mail Order
(purchases made online or from a catalog)

816