We’ve all had that moment as consumers. That one phone call that just enrages us to such a degree that we have to tell someone about it. Sometimes it’s just telling a friend or significant other and just getting it off your chest. Other times, it’s more serious than that and that threat you made to the representative to report them to the Better Business Bureau seems like something you should do. Everyone has their tipping point before they finally do make a phone call to formally report a company. In 2011, the Federal Trade Commission received more than 1.8 million complaints from consumers. This is a mark increase from 2010, a 24% increase in fact. It’s also the fifth straight year that the number of complaints increased.
Fox Business put together a list of just what people are lodging complaints about. They broke it down to the top five offenders.
#1 – Identity Theft
This complaint has been on the top of the complaint list for the 12th year in the a row. It accounts for 15% of complaints and a quarter of those were related to tax or wage related fraud. What this kind of fraud is is when your Social Security number or other personal information is stolen and used to get a job. That holds you liable for any tax obligations from the thief’s employment. They also file a tax return in the victim’s name and then walk off with the tax refund. Make sure to protect yourself against this threat by guarding your Social Security number and monitoring your bank statements and credit reports.
#2 – Debt Collection
Debt collector has been an ugly word for some time now and there’s a good reason. The daily news cycle for the past many years seems to always have a section dedicated to some caller finding new and immoral ways of harassment as a means to collect on debt. No other industry receives more complaints from people than debt collectors according to David Torok, the director of the division of panning and information at the Federal Trade Commission. 2011 saw 180,928 complaints, or 1 in ever 10 complaints made. Torok also provides some advice with dealing with the nasty kinds of debt collectors. “Collectors can’t harass. That’s the simple bottom line. Know your rights.”
#3 – Banks and Lending
Definitely not a hard one to see given the state of the economy. The bailout hasn’t left anyone news cycle, nor has the predatory mortgage loan fiasco. That and there was this whole messy business with crashing the world economy. In this regard, the banks are receiving such complaints due to problems with customer service and problems with modifying their mortgage terms.
#4 – Auto-Related
The majority of complaints that are against dealerships come from the sales of new and used cars. In fact, 2 out of 5 auto complaints were over new-car sales. The issues that were most complained about were car rentals, parts & repair, and services. The recommendations to avoid running into these problems when going into the dealership is all about research. Know the car you’re purchasing so you can go into the negotiation process armed with the proper information.
#5 – Advance-Fee Loans
44,020 complaints were filed against advance-fee loans. What happens is that the promise of a loan or a credit card is held up in front of a consumer and requires a payment up front in advance. What usually happens is that the person offering the loan takes that fee and runs away, leaving the consumer with less money and no prospect for a loan. A good red-flag of this is if the lender is looking for just personal information such as a Social Security number or bank account number and doesn’t show interest in your credit history. Also, be weary of any offer made over the phone that requires you to pay in advance. Make sure to do some homework on a business before dealing with them to help avoid this issue.
There’s certainly a lot of people out there trying to pull the wool over the eyes of consumers. I feel that the number of complaints on the rise show that people are really starting to show they understand their rights and just what to do when they feel wronged by a company.
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