Attorney General Phil Weiser kicks off National Consumer Protection Week with top consumer complaints of 2021, highlighting work to protect consumers
March 7, 2022 (DENVER)—Attorney General Phil Weiser today kicked off National Consumer Protection Week by unveiling the list of the top 10 consumer complaints and inquiries his office received in 2021, which included unemployment insurance scams, retail sales related to COVID-19, and automotive sales and services.
Last year, consumers filed 13,970 complaints and inquiries with the Consumer Protection Section in the Colorado Department of Law, a 15.1% increase from 2020.
“One of our foremost responsibilities is protecting consumers,” Attorney General Weiser explained. “National Consumer Protection Week is an important opportunity to educate consumers about our work, help them protect themselves, and put irresponsible actors on notice that we are committed to holding them accountable.”
National Consumer Protection Week, which this year runs March 6-12, 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 2021 are:
|Type of Complaint or Inquiry||Description||Number of Complaints|
|Retail Sales||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.||1266|
|Unemployment Scams||These complaints include fraudulent unemployment claims where someone used stolen personal information to file for unemployment benefits in the name of someone else.||995|
|Automotive Sales and Service||These complaints include issues about automotive purchases, service and repair, and automobile rentals.
|Professional and Other Related Services
|These complaints include issues about product and service warranties, business support, and legal related services.
|Commercial and Residential Home Services & Repair||These complaints include issues about general contracting and remodeling, heating and cooling, and handyman services.||727|
|Vacation and Travel||These complaints include issues about timeshare reselling services, travel agencies, and general lodging.||678|
|Debt Collection||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.||532|
|Health Care and Medical Services||These complaints include issues about hospitals and urgent care, health and medical insurance carriers, and health practitioners relating to quality of care, billing, and coverage issues.||508|
|Telecommunications||These include issues such as billing disputes, service or coverage issues, rate changes, fees and surcharges, and cancellation and termination issues.||490|
|Real Estate Sales and Services||These complaints include issues about rental and leasing, property management, and real estate related activates.||460|
Consumer protection actions taken in 2021:
The attorney general brought enforcement actions against several of the businesses that
consumers reported to his office, including Stub Hub, who cooperated with the attorney general’s office to provide ticket refunds to consumers for canceled events during the COVID-19 pandemic.
To thwart medical product scams related to the COVID-19 pandemic, the office investigated Nationwide Medical Supply, Inc. for price gouging and deceptive marketing practices, and reached a settlement with Loveland Medical Clinic for failing to comply with a cease-and-desist order to stop marketing fake COVID-19 cures. Additionally, the office, in partnership with the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment, issued cease-and-desist letters to COVID-19 testing sites that failed to be properly certified by the federal government to perform testing and for failing to report test results and cases to CDPHE as required by state law.
To address the pervasive fraud against the state’s unemployment insurance program from the start of the pandemic, the attorney general first looked to help Coloradans address the effects of their personal identity being compromised by publishing an Identity Theft Repair Kit. The attorney general has since partnered with state and federal law enforcement officials and the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment to launch the Colorado Unemployment Fraud Task Force. The focus of the joint task force is to investigate and prosecute those who engaged in illegal conduct to fraudulently apply for unemployment insurance benefits.
In 2021, investigations by the Consumer Credit Unit in the Consumer Protection Section of the Department of Law revealed several companies failed to refund unearned guaranteed automobile protection (GAP) fees to consumers as required by Colorado law. The department secured more than $9.5 million in consumer refunds from Wells Fargo, more than $1.68 million from BBVA USA (formerly known as Compass Bank), and $121,983 from American Assurance Corporation for failing to provide customers with the full gap benefits they were entitled to.
Last year, more than 200,000 Coloradans received checks in the mail from a 2019 settlement that the attorney general’s office reached with CenturyLink for deceptively overcharging customers for services. More than $8 million was refunded to consumers from the settlement.
StopFraudColorado.gov is a website for the Attorney General’s Office’s Consumer Protection Section 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.