NDSU Extension Service - Ramsey County


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Top 10 Complaints

Top 10 Complaints

                In 2011, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) received more than 1.8 million consumer complaints in more than 30 categories. Many consumers cited abusive or exploitive business practices. More than half alleged outright fraud. Interestingly, North Dakota ranks last in the U.S. for fraud and other complaints and identity theft complaints, both in number.  The top ten complaints were:

10. Credit cards. Complaints included account and billing issues, unexpected interest rate changes, late fees and overcharges.

9. Telephone and mobile services. Consumer complaints included charges for calls to toll-free numbers, unauthorized switching of services (slamming) and misleading prepaid phone card offers.

8. Foreign money offers and counterfeit check scams. The FTC describes this as “letters or emails offering the ‘opportunity’ to share in a percentage of millions of dollars that a self-proclaimed government official is trying to transfer illegally out of a foreign country in return for money.” In other words, a scam!

7. Internet auctions. Reports included non-delivery or late delivery of goods, goods that are less valuable than advertised, and failure to disclose all the relevant information about the product or terms of the sale.

6. Impostor scams. Scammers pretend to be with a government agency or related to the consumer to lure them into a scam such as a foreign lottery or a prize/sweepstakes offer.  Another scam.

5. Shop-at-home and catalog sales. Consumers reported various problems, such as undisclosed costs, failure to deliver on time, non-delivery and refusal to honor guarantees. Many of these situations could be avoided with a little online research. Shop somewhere else if you find more than two unresolved complaints with the Better Business Bureau or below a 90 percent rating on Amazon, Yelp! or Bizrate.

4. Prizes, sweepstakes and lotteries. In this category, the FTC includes “promotions for ‘free’ prizes for a fee; foreign lotteries and sweepstakes offered through the phone, fax, email or mail; etc.”  Another scam!

3. Internet services. Problems with Internet service providers (ISPs) involve trial offers, account issues, undisclosed charges, spyware, adware, malware and social networking services.

2. Debt collection. Consumers reported debt collectors for all kinds of illegal and unethical behavior, including calling continually, misrepresenting the amount or status of debt, failure to send written notice, and even profane language.  Such tactics are illegal according to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.

1. Identity theft. The FTC describes this as when someone appropriates your personal identifying information (such as your Social Security number or credit card account number) to commit fraud or theft.

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