The Consumer Federation of America, along with the North American Consumer Protection Investigators, recently released a report showcasing the fastest growing consumer complaints. Fraud, debt collection abuses, and mortgage-related problems ranked among the top five, with home loan issues topping the list.
Auto sales, credit and debt, and home improvement continue to be the areas where most complaints are fielded according to the report. Real estate, non-mortgage related problems (including timeshare sales, retirement communities, and fraud) notably cracked the top 10 for the first time. The rankings were compiled from almost 300,000 complaints reported to 37 state and local consumer protection agencies across the United States.
Here’s a closer look at some top consumer scams and tips on how to avoid them:
Autos: Consumers seeking both new and used cars frequently fall victim to false advertising. People are also frequently taken advantage of when bringing their vehicle in for repairs.
Bottom line: Always make sure any vehicle you purchase is up to date with inspections, and never purchase a car online or pay a seller in full before receiving the vehicle.
Credit/debt: Complaints about credit card billing and fees continued to surge to the top of the list, followed by a host of mortgage-related problems, including modifications and fraud.
Bottom line: Consumers need to remember that it is illegal for mortgage relief assistance services to charge consumers until the lender provides a written loan modification offer and the consumer accepts it.
Services: Consumers complained about everything from providers misrepresenting their services, to providers doing inadequate work.
Bottom line: Consumers should never pay for a service in full before everything that was promised is done.