Below are the key findings taken right out of the report. If you want to read the report, findings and recommendations, click the link at the bottom of this article.
The 37 agencies that provided complaint numbers received a total of 289,732 complaints last year. Thirty-five agencies provided information about how much money they recovered and saved for consumers last year. This included amounts from informally resolving individual complaints and, in many cases, from bringing legal actions. The total was $146,714,069.
Once again, complaints about credit and debt were second only to auto-related complaints in the top 10. Real estate complaints not related to consumers’ problems with mortgages are new to the top 10 list. These include problems with timeshare sales and resales, retirement communities and assisted living facilities, and real estate fraud.
The top five fastest-growing complaints last year were about fraud, debt collection abuses, Do Not Call violations, mortgage-related problems and home improvement.
The top five worst complaints last year involved mortgage-related problems, home improvement, timeshare sales and resales, Internet sales and fraud.
New types of consumer problems that agencies dealt with last year covered a wide spectrum of subjects, from bedbugs in apartments to penny auctions on the Internet, from gold buying companies to solicitations for home improvement work disguised as “free” energy audits. Some agencies also noted that scammers are exploiting a new form of payment, prepaid card products, to get cash from consumers.
Agencies’ greatest achievements included major enforcement actions, internal improvements to their operations, and efforts to reach consumers and businesses with the information they need about their rights and responsibilities.
Of the 35 agencies that responded to the question about what their biggest challenge was last year, nearly half (16) cited budget cuts and limited resources. Another challenge that was frequently mentioned was the evolving nature of fraud and the fact that an increasing number of scammers are located in other countries, complicating efforts to resolve complaints.