CADILLAC — Robotic calls have Michigander’s dialing up the state’s attorney general to complain.
Robocalls were very unpopular with Michigan consumers in 2020.
So unpopular, in fact, that Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel’s office received 5,516 complaints about robocalls in 2020.
The AG’s office recently released its list of the top 10 consumer complaints in 2020. The release marked the start of Consumer Protection Week on March 1.
“Each year, my office tracks consumer complaints to ensure that we’re keeping Michiganders informed on crucial details to protect their wallets,‘ said Nessel. “A common thread every year is the framework bad actors continue to use, which always includes: a sense of urgency, untraceable payment methods, and an offer too good to be true. The Department of Attorney General is committed to being your connection to consumer protection and I encourage everyone to take advantage of the wealth of resources we have to offer during National Consumer Protection Week and beyond.‘
As the AG’s office puts it, “the object of any scam is to steal money or obtain personal information by convincing a victim of the need to part with it. Scammers prey on anyone and use clever tactics to convince their victims to hand over money or personal information through deceit, coercion, intimidation, fear and empty promises. These tactics coupled with a sense of urgency put pressure on the victim to make an immediate decision.”
Nessel’s Consumer Protection Team compiled the agency’s top 10 list. The AG’s office said more localized information wasn’t readily available, so it’s unknown whether any particular type of complaint is more common in Northern Michigan.
1. Robocalls (5,516 complaints). Robocalls includes illegal robocalls, telephone solicitations and telemarketing.
2. Price-gouging (4,522 complaints). Most consumers reported significant price increases on items such as face masks, gloves, toiletries, food and other items during the COVID-19 outbreak. the Attorney General’s office “took action against many businesses and individuals seeking to profit from consumer panic during the pandemic.”
3. Retail (2,433 complaints). Retail complaints include purchases that involved late deliveries or products that were never delivered. Other complaints include the purchases of appliances, furniture and other items that were defective or did not work as advertised.
4. Telecommunications, Cable, and Satellite TV (1,880 complaints). This category includes complaints against wireless communications, cable and satellite TV services with most of the reports being billing and service issues.
5. Internet (1,275 complaints). A significant number of these complaints involve online purchases, as well as computer communications and technology, and internet service providers.
6. Personal Service Providers (953 complaints). This category covers dating services, beauty companies, fitness facilities, spas, home security and tax preparation services.
7. Credit and Financial Concerns (880 complaints). This category covers a variety of areas including debt collection and reporting, credit repair, payday lending and mortgage brokering. In 2020, the department settled a lawsuit against tribal officials associated with an online tribal lender that resulted in the lender discontinuing its services to Michigan residents and collecting only outstanding principal amount on remaining active accounts.
8. Landlord/Tenant (786 complaints). This category involves disputes between renters and apartment owners or property management companies, mobile home parks and site operators, as well as condominium associations. Most complaints report on living conditions and contract disputes.
9. Motor Vehicle and Automobile (670 complaints). Complaints against used car dealers continue to top this category, followed by auto repair shops, new car dealers and passenger car rentals. This category involves issues from shoddy repair work to service issues.
10. Travel (547 complaints). This category includes complaints against travel agents, travel clubs, time-shares and time-share exit companies.
More information on consumer protection is available on the AG’s website: https://www.michigan.gov/ag/0,4534,7-359-81903_20942—,00.html