Attorney General Phil Weiser kicks off National Consumer Protection Week with top consumer complaints of 2020, highlighting work to protect consumers
Recouping upended travel losses, robocalls, pandemic scams top the list for Coloradans
March 1, 2021 (DENVER)—Attorney General Phil Weiser kicked off National Consumer Protection Week today by unveiling the list of the top 10 consumer complaints and inquiries his office received in 2020, which included airlines’ response to upended travel, robocalls, and pandemic purchase scams.
Last year, consumers filed a record-breaking 12,130 complaints and inquiries with the Consumer Protection Division in the Attorney General’s Office, a 23.5% increase from 2019.
“We were prepared for scammers to prey on consumers during the COVID-19 pandemic, and we acted quickly to warn Coloradans of frauds as we detected them,” said Weiser. “By reporting pandemic-related scams that did arise, Colorado consumers helped us warn others about what to look out for. Together, we can continue our work to protect Colorado consumers and hold bad actors accountable.”
National Consumer Protection Week, Feb.28– March 7, is designated by the Federal Trade Commission as a time to help people understand their consumer rights and to make well-informed decisions about money. The Attorney General’s Office partners with the FTC to help raise awareness about Colorado scams and resources available.
The top 10 types of complaints and inquiries received in 2020 are:
|Type of Complaint or Inquiry
|Number of Complaints
|This includes air transport companies and services for traveling passengers and freight.
|Fraudulent or Unwanted Telephone Calls
|These include complaints about phony Social Security, and IRS calls, and other imposter scams, including tech support scams and phony debt collection scams.
|These involve complaints relating to unauthorized memberships or subscriptions, service and delivery issues, and cancellation and termination issues, many of which were related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
|Collection Agency Complaints
|These complaints include issues under the Colorado Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, including harassment or abuse by a debt collector, disputed debt, and phantom debt or unlicensed collection.
|Establishments such as federal, state, and local government agencies that administer, oversee, and manage public programs and have executive, legislative, or judicial authority over other institutions within a given area. These are legitimate (non-scam) complaints against a government agency. Examples can include complaints against a state representative, a state agency, or a municipality.
|These complaints include issues under the Uniform Consumer Credit Code, including interest rates, credit reporting, tribal lending, and unlicensed activity.
|Fraudulent or Unwanted Emails
|Unwanted emails or scams that originate from sources such as emails.
|These include issues such as billing disputes, service or coverage issues, rate changes, fees and surcharges, and cancellation and termination issues.
|These are complaints against a single individual. A good example would be a complaint against a single family member.
|Travel Agencies & Bureaus
|Establishments primarily engaged in acting as agents in selling travel, tour, and accommodation services to the general public and commercial clients
Consumer protection actions taken in 2020:
The Attorney General brought enforcement actions against several of the businesses consumers reported to our office, including Nationwide Medical Supply and a hand sanitizer company. During this time, Ticketmaster cooperated with the attorney general to provide refunds to consumers for canceled events. Coloradans who were denied ticket refunds for canceled trips or the ability to use flight vouchers as promised by airlines submitted more than 650 complaints to our office in 2020. In response Weiser urged the U.S. Department of Transportation to investigate Frontier Airlines, which was the target of the vast majority of the complaints.
To thwart medical product scams, the Consumer Protection Division in the Attorney General’s Office also monitored for fake COVID-19 tests and cures. The office sent cease-and-desist letters to businesses that marketed tests for COVID-19 infection or immunity and overstated the reliability and accuracy of the tests or treatments.
StopFraudColorado.gov is a website for the Attorney General’s Office’s Consumer Protection Division that is designed to emphasize consumer protection outreach and makes it easier for Coloradans to avoid becoming a victim of fraud, while streamlining the process for filing fraud reports. If you notice any scams, fraud, price gouging, or other attempts to take advantage of Coloradans, contact Stop Fraud Colorado at 800-222-4444 or www.StopFraudColorado.gov.
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