'Do not call' violations top list of NC consumer complaints
Posted April 1, 2014
Raleigh, N.C. — Unwanted sales calls to phone numbers placed on the Do Not Call Registry was the top consumer complaint in North Carolina last year, according to a report released Tuesday by state Attorney General Roy Cooper.
The Do Not Call complaints accounted for 5,076 of the 19,865 complaints filed with the Consumer Protection Division in 2014. Many residents who put their numbers on the Do Not Call registry said they still got calls pitching medical alert and home alarm systems. Many of those calls were automated, which is illegal in North Carolina.
Cooper recommends consumers hang up on robocalls because pressing a number to get more information or stop the calls usually results in more calls, he said.
Problems with loans – including high interest rates, charges for late payments, penalties and fees – came in second on the list of top 10 consumer complaints. Some of the complaints were about problems with online payday loans.
Storefront business that offer payday loans are outlawed in North Carolina, but online lenders are not. The state filed a lawsuit against two of them – CashCall and Western Sky – last year for charging interest rates up to 342 percent, which violates state law.
The remaining top complaints of 2013 were:
• Telemarketing fraud – Scammers were usually overseas and tried to get consumers to share personal information. The scams ran the gamut, from bogus sweepstakes to fake IRS agents to sweetheart scams.
• Health care – Common complaints included charges for weight loss products, hearing aids and other equipment, and problems with medical billing or collection practices.
• Home repair – Consumers complained about shoddy work, contractors who abandon the job after being paid, miss deadlines and go over budgets. There were also complaints about scams that target homeowners with unneeded repairs.
• Motor vehicles – Common complaints included mechanical problems with used cars, difficulties in getting a car title when the dealership has gone out of business and failure to honor warranties.
• Credit and collections – Common complaints included credit repair scams, identity theft, incorrect credit reports and threats from debt collectors.
• Television services – These complaints were about service and billing problems. However, the Consumer Protection Division is authorized to handle complaints only about state-issued cable franchises.
• Internet/computers – Common complaints were about Internet service providers, unsolicited emails, software, hardware and merchandise ordered online that was never received.
• Furniture – Consumers complained about items they paid for that were damaged or never delivered.
North Carolina consumers who want to check out a business, get tips or file a complaint can contact the Consumer Protection Division at 1-877-5-NO-SCAM or submit a complaint online. The division also has a list of consumer tips online.
“Don’t get fooled by common scams or ripoffs,” Cooper said in a statement. “Learn about common consumer problems so you can avoid them, and let us know if you don’t get what you paid for.”