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The Consumer Federation of America and the North American Consumer Protection Investigators conducted a survey of the most common complaints that state and local consumer protection agencies received last year. They asked 39 agencies of various functions in 23 states about the worst, fastest growing, and new types of complaints reported to them; their biggest achievements and challenges; and what new laws are needed to better protect consumers.

Top Ten Complaints in 2016

  1. Auto. Misrepresentations in advertising or sales of new and used cars, lemons, faulty repairs, leasing and towing disputes.
  2. Home Improvement/Construction. Shoddy work, failure to start or complete the job.
  3. Utilities. Installation issues, service problems, billing disputes with phone, cable, satellite, Internet, electric and gas service.
  4. 4. Retail Sales. False advertising and other deceptive practices, defective merchandise, problems with rebates, coupons, gift cards and gift certificates, failure to deliver.
  5. Credit/Debt. Billing and fee disputes, mortgage modifications and mortgage-related fraud, credit repair, debt relief services, predatory lending, illegal or abusive debt collection tactics.
  6. Health Products/Services. Misleading claims, unlicensed practitioners, failure to deliver, medical billing issues.
  7. Services. Misrepresentations, shoddy work, failure to have required licenses, failure to perform.
  8. Tie: Landlord/Tenant. Unhealthy or unsafe conditions, failure to make repairs or provide promised amenities, deposit and rent disputes, illegal eviction tactics;
  9. Tie: Household Goods. Misrepresentations, failure to deliver, faulty repairs in connection with furniture or appliances.
  10. Internet Sales. Misrepresentations or other deceptive practices, failure to deliver online purchases.
  11. Home Solicitations (not in top ten last year). Misrepresentations, abusive sales practices, and failure to deliver in door-to-door, telemarketing or mail solicitations, do-not-call violations.

 

Fastest-Growing Complaints in 2016

The top three fastest-growing complaints to state and local consumer protection agencies last year were:

  1. Fraud (scams such as apartment rental scams, phony government grants, IRS imposters)
  2. Cable, phone and internet services (billing issues)
  3. Health services (billing and collections)

 

If you were a victim of a scam or have a complaint we should know about, contact us.  For more information on some of the top ten complaints and how Massachusetts consumers can protect their rights, read our blog!

If you have additional questions, contact the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation by calling our Consumer Hotline at (617) 973-8787, or toll-free in MA at (888) 283-3757, Monday through Friday, from 9 am-4:30 pm. Follow the Office on Facebook and Twitter, @Mass_Consumer. The Baker-Polito Administration’s Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation along with its five agencies work together to achieve two goals: to protect and empower consumers through advocacy and education, and to ensure a fair playing field for Massachusetts businesses. The Office also oversees the state’s Lemon Laws, data breach reporting, Home Improvement Contractor Programs and the state’s Do Not Call Registry.

 

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