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The Top New Consumer Complaints

Cameron Huddleston

State and local agencies are reporting several growing consumer problems that surfaced over the past year.



Once again, auto-, credit- and debt-related complaints top the list of consumer gripes reported to state and local agencies. But the annual consumer-complaint survey shows that several new grievances surfaced last year -- with complaints about group discount coupons among the most common.

SEE ALSO: Can You Spot the Scam?

Each year, the Consumer Federation of America, the National Association of Consumer Agency Administrators, and the North American Consumer Protection Investigators survey consumer protection agencies to find out which were the most common, fastest growing and worst complaints they received over the past year. The 31 agencies surveyed received 252,000 complaints in 2010, and the most common were auto-related -- reports of misrepresentations in advertising or sales of new and used cars, faulty auto repairs, and leasing and towing disputes.

Rounding out the top ten list were complaints about credit and debt services, home improvement, retail sales, utilities, services, Internet sales, household goods, landlords, home solicitations and fraud (bogus sweepstakes, work-at-home schemes) -- which was the only new complaint that made it into the top ten. See the complete report for more details about the top ten consumer complaints.

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Here are nine new things consumer agencies received complaints about in 2010:

- Inadequate disclosures about expiration dates or other limitations on group discount coupons.

- Medical billing disputes between consumers and health insurance companies about whether claims were properly submitted or should be covered.

- Companies that offered to buy consumers’ cars but never paid off the liens or whose checks to consumers bounced.

- Recovery services that falsely promised to retrieve money that consumers had lost to timeshare resale companies.

- Major data breaches that could lead to ID theft.

- Lack of documentation for wireless television service contracts.

- Billing disputes involving unauthorized debits to consumers’ bank accounts spanning many years.

- The grandparent scam, in which consumers receive calls or e-mails purporting to be from a friend or relative in an emergency situation asking them to wire money to help.

- Tax-related scams, in which consumers receive official-looking correspondence offering help with property-tax adjustments or other tax assistance for a fee.

For tips on avoiding consumer-related problems and how to file complaints, see How to Protect Yourself From Scams.

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