Complaints regarding credit and financial concerns were the most frequent issues on the 2012 Top Ten Consumer Complaints complied by Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette.
Schuette's Top Ten List is compiled from an analysis of nearly 11,000 written complaints filed with the Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division in 2012. In 2012, Schuette's Consumer Protection Division recovered over $1.3 million in consumer refunds and forgiven debts and $11.1 million in state recoveries.
"Consumer protection isn't just one program," said Schuette. "It is a philosophy that guides everything we do. We help young children learn how to be safe on the Internet and fight to protect seniors from scams and fraud. We also defend consumers by exposing insurance fraud and price fixing, guarding against bogus charities, and prosecuting home foreclosure scams."
Schuette noted one of the best ways to safeguard residents from commercial exploitation is by equipping them with the information necessary to avoid becoming the target of a scam.
The Top Ten Complaint List is one useful component of this information-sharing effort. By highlighting the most problematic product and service categories, the list encourages consumers to engage in commercial transactions with a heightened level of caution, Schuette said in a statement.
In 2012, credit and financial concerns once again topped the list of consumer complaints, due in large part to continuing economic challenges in Michigan and nationwide.
Debt collection is one of the primary areas of concern for Michigan consumers calling the Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division for assistance.
Schuette reminds residents that, although debt collectors may have the right to contact you, they never have the right to threaten, intimidate, or harass. In addition, Schuette encourages residents with questions or concerns to contact the Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division toll-free by calling 1-877-765-8388.
Schuette also encourages victims of unfair, misleading, or deceptive business practices to contact the Department's Consumer Protection Division toll free at 1-877-765-8388.
To file a consumer complaint, Michigan residents can submit an online complaint form through the Attorney General's website at www.Michigan.gov/ag, or mail a letter explaining the problem to:
Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette
Consumer Protection Division
P.O. Box 30213, Lansing, MI 48909
Top 10 Consumer Complaint Categories of 2012
- 1. Credit and Financial Concerns: The top complaint category of 2011 maintained its position as the leading category in 2012, generating more than 2,000 consumer complaints in areas ranging from debt collection and credit repair to payday lending and mortgage brokering.
- 2. Telecommunications and Cable or Satellite TV: This category also maintained its 2011 position. It includes technology-related complaints concerning issues like telemarketing, cellular communication, and cable and satellite TV services.
- 3. Retail: The retail category also ranked number three in 2011. It includes complaints about merchandise quality, as well as warranty and pricing disputes.
- 4. Internet: Moving up a spot from its 2011 position, complaints in this computer-based category include internet service provider issues, online auction disputes, and fraudulent e-mail solicitations.
- 5. Motor Vehicle or Automobile: Also up one spot since 2011, this category includes used car dealer disputes, automotive repair service complaints, and lemon law violations.
- 6. Personal Service Providers: Up from its number eight position in 2011, this category includes complaints leveled against personal service providers ranging from dating services and beauty shops to home security and health and fitness organizations.
- 7. Service Providers for Small Businesses: Absent from the list in 2011, this category generated over 400 complaints in 2012 related to services provided to small business, including publishing and advertising.
- 8. Mail Order: Sweepstakes disputes, including lottery and fraudulent check scams that aggressively target seniors, and delivery failure complaints make up this category, which also moved up one spot from its position last year.
- 9. Gasoline/Fuel/Energy: Complaints over gas and utility service prices are common in this category.
- 10. Contractors: Rounding out the Top Ten is a category of complaints over contractor service disputes, home improvement concerns, and warranty issues. It also held the final spot on last year's list.