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Utah consumers most dislike telemarketers, debt collectors

Published: Tuesday, March 4 2014 5:40 p.m. MST

The Utah Division of Consumer Protection division released its annual "Top 10 Consumer Complaints" in conjunction with National Consumer Protection Week.

Marlena Telvick, PBS

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SALT LAKE CITY — Debt collectors and telemarketers are among the most loathed by Utah consumers.

The Utah Division of Consumer Protection Tuesday released its annual list of Top Ten Consumer Complaints as part of National Consumer Protection Week.

“Telemarketing complaints are back on top as the most common consumer complaint, which shows con artists are constantly finding new ways to get into victims’ wallets,“ said Daniel O’Bannon, director of the state Division of Consumer Protection. “One easy step anyone can take is to make sure your phone numbers and those of your loved ones are on the National Do Not Call Registry.”

Utah consumers reported more than 10,000 complaints to the FTC between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31, according to the 2013 Federal Trade Commission state-by-state Consumer Sentinel report. Debt collection schemes comprised 10 percent of all complaints, followed by imposter scams and banking scams each comprising about 8 percent of complaints. Auto-related complaints and phone service complaints rounded out the top five categories.

The division also highlighted the Federal Trade Commission’s 2013 Consumer Sentinel report that tracked Utah consumer complaints to the agency. Locally, Utah consumers registered the most dissatisfaction with pesky phone solicitors.

In addition to telemarketing scams, among the top complaints to the Consumer Protection Division were coaching services that are offered to purchasers of business opportunities, alarm systems sold door-to-door using aggressive sales tactics; e-commerce and Internet scams, retail sales fraud, home improvement scams involving unscrupulous or unlicensed contractors, companies that fail to make refunds when required and fail to disclose refund policies, deceptive practices involving travel/vacation timeshares, auto repair and car sales fraud, and debt collection scams in which con artists send out letters to consumers with similar names and demand payment for debts that do not exist.

“Aggressive fraudsters continue to follow news headlines and try to trap consumers with offers too good to refuse,” explained Francine Giani, executive director of the Utah Department of Commerce. “Consumers need to be vigilant in protecting their identity, personal information and finances by asking questions and always getting the terms in writing.”

FTC complaints

Utah consumers reported 10,020 complaints during 2013 to the FTC. The following is a rank of the top categories, the number of complaints and the percentage of complaints:

1) Debt collection, 989, 10 percent

2) Imposter scams, 803, 8 percent

3) Banks and lenders, 773, 8 percent

4) Auto-related complaints, 604, 6 percent

5) Telephone and mobile services, 536, 5 percent

6) Internet services, 413, 4 percent

7) Television and electronic media, 409, 4 percent

8) Shop-at-home and catalog sales, 400, 4 percent

9) Prizes, sweepstakes, and lotteries, 389, 4 percent

10) Health care, 282, 3 percent

Source: FTC state-by-state Consumer Sentinel report

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