As part of National Consumer Protection Week, today Attorney General Patrick Morrisey released a list of the Top 10 Consumer Complaints the Office’s Consumer Protection Division received in 2013.
“One of the primary goals of National Consumer Protection Week is to educate citizens so they can be armed with information and avoid being taken advantage of,” Attorney General Morrisey said. “I believe providing this list of the most common complaints received by our Consumer Protection Division will help citizens know what they should be aware of and help them make wise decisions.”
The list was compiled by analyzing more than 5,700 written complaints the Division received during 2013. Based on that analysis, the No. 1 complaint area was “promotions,” which includes complaints about contests, prizes and sweepstakes; telemarketing; robocalls; and other marketing and advertising complaints.
“Consumers always need to live by the old adage that if something appears too good to be true it typically is,” Morrisey said. “But scammers can be very convincing. They can make an offer that seems logical and harmless, but in the end seeks to separate you from your money.”
One of the more prevalent complaints under the promotion category focused on sweepstakes, prizes and contests. In many instances, consumers would receive calls about winning a prize, but could not collect the winnings until they paid certain fees.
“Consumers should always be wary if someone says you have to pay upfront for something that is free,” Morrisey said.
The complete Top 10 list is as follows:
2. Autos/motor vehicles
3. Credit issues
5. Home repair/remodeling services
6. Collection agencies
7. General sales
8. Miscellaneous complaints
10. Electronic equipment
“Our Consumer Protection Division is on the front line every day working to protect fellow West Virginians from scammers and businesses that seek to take advantage of them,” Morrisey said. “Often we are able to mediate a problem between a consumer and a business. Other times we have to take additional steps to halt bad apples in their tracks and protect our friends and neighbors. Either way our Office is committed to ensure that West Virginians of all ages are protected.”
Morrisey said one of his Office’s major Consumer Protection initiatives over the next year will focus on preventing consumers from becoming victims.
“I believe one of our Office’s essential duties is to educate citizens about their rights, potential red flags they should be aware of and scams that are popping up in West Virginia and elsewhere,” Morrisey said. “We can prosecute those who take advantage of consumers, but it is better to prevent problems before they occur.”
Looking ahead, Morrisey said he believes identity theft will be a big issue throughout the rest of the year.
“In the past few months, we all have heard stories about massive data breaches at some of the nation’s largest retailers,” Morrisey said. “Those breaches really opened a lot of Americans eyes to the danger that hackers and cyber criminals can inflict from hundreds or thousands of miles away. It was an important, albeit painful, wakeup call that we have to be vigilant about protecting our identity as much as we protect our wallets.”
If you believe you have been a victim of a scam or an unscrupulous business, call the Attorney General’s Office Consumer Protection Division at 800-368-8808 or go online to http://www.wvago.gov.