COLORADO ATTORNEY GENERAL’S OFFICE UNVEILS TOP 2014 CONSUMER COMPLAINTS AND INQUIRIES
DENVER—In recognition of National Consumer Protection Week, the Consumer Protection Section of the Colorado Attorney General’s Office unveiled its annual list of the top ten consumer complaints. During the 2014 calendar year, consumers filed 9,568 complaints and inquiries. This represents a 10% increase in complaints and inquiries from the 8,654 complaints filed in 2013.
“Year-over-year, complaint numbers go up, which tells us that Coloradans are better informed about scams and fraud and more proactive in reporting abuse,” said Attorney General Cynthia H. Coffman. “One of the most important missions of the Colorado Attorney General’s Office is protecting consumers and we do this through consistent outreach, warnings about the latest scams, and through consumer education that empowers Coloradans to protect themselves.”
The top 10 types of complaints and inquiries of 2014:
Type of Complaint or Inquiry Amount
1. Debt Collection Companies - 1371
2. Fraudulent or Unwanted/Spam Email - 713
3. Mortgage Lenders - 556
4. Utility Complaints (cable, telecom and satellite) - 431
5. Fraudulent or Unwanted Telephone Calls - 295
6. Payday Lenders - 154
7. Automobile Dealers, New and Used - 148
8. Real Estate Services - 126
9. Internet Shopping Services - 107
10. Telephone (cell phones and equipment) - 103
Debt collection company complaints and inquiries topped the list again this year. In this common scam, Coloradans report receiving a call from someone impersonating law enforcement or a government agency and being threatened. The fraudster is typically trying to collect on an alleged payday loan debt, using personally identifying information like the last four digits of a Social Security Number. Coupled with variations of fictitious names that sound very similar to well-known payday lenders, consumers report receiving fake arrest warrants and being pressured into sending money.
“Out of fear of prosecution, victims end up sending a ‘settlement amount’ to the scammers using prepaid money cards to settle the alleged debt and allegations,” explained Coffman. “Legitimate law enforcement entities and government agencies do not, however, threaten arrest or prosecution for unpaid consumer debts and would never send an arrest warrant via email,” Coffman warned.
Regarding complaints of mortgage lenders, the Attorney General’s Office hears stories of foreclosure abuses involving improper documentation, lost paperwork, and robosigning. The third most prevalent type of complaint involves fraudulent/unwanted emails. In this scam, consumers are asked to send money via a money transmittal service to pay for taxes, fees, etc. as they have either won a foreign lottery or inherited money from a distant relative living abroad.
A number of the complaints involve businesses and individuals against whom the Attorney General’s Office has already settled with or brought enforcement actions, including Sirius XM Radio Inc., Rome Finance Co., Inc., Apollo Credit Agency, and businesses involved in the Attorney General’s mortgage and foreclosure cases such as Ocwen Financial Corporation. Publicity about a case, or information sought for purposes of restitution, often result in the filing of additional reports and inquiries. For a comprehensive case list please visit StopFraudColorado.gov, a microsite created by the Colorado Attorney General’s Office.
StopFraudColorado.gov emphasizes consumer protection outreach and is designed to meet the demand for timely, credible information on scams, help victims, and encourage consumers to report fraud. The site makes it easy for Coloradans to learn about common types of fraud, receive tips on how to avoid being a fraud victim, and streamlines the process for filing fraud reports.
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DateMarch 2nd, 2015