From the Office of Michigan’s Attorney General
To celebrate the importance of National Consumer Protection Week and to help people make informed decisions about how to safely spend their money, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel today announced Michigan‘s Top 10 Consumer Complaints for 2020. Last year, the Michigan Department of Attorney General received and processed nearly 24,000 consumer complaints.
“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.”
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.
More information on scams can be found online at the Attorney General Consumer Alert page. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) also has a listing of individual scams with great tips on prevention.
Michigan’s Top 10 Consumer Complaint Categories of 2020:
Nessel’s Top 10 list is compiled by analyzing all complaints filed with the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Team. Thanks to the hard work of the Consumer Protection Team, the Attorney General’s office was able to recover $517,864.10 in consumer refunds, forgiven debt and other recoveries.
Robocalls (5,516 complaints). As a new category in the top 10, it includes illegal robocalls, telephone solicitations and telemarketing. With the launch of Michigan’s Robocall Crackdown Team in late 2019, Michigan is now recognized as a leader in combatting illegal robocalls. In 2020, Attorney General Nessel joined six other states in filing a major lawsuit against a pair of Texas businesses accused of blasting out billions of illegal robocalls. Rising Eagle Capital Group LLC and JSquared Telecom LLC are both believed to be responsible for more than 42 million illegal robocalls to Michigan residents over a five-month period in 2019 alone.
Price-gouging (4,522 complaints). This is the first time that price-gouging has made the top 10 list. Most consumers reported significant price increases on items such as face masks, gloves, toiletries, food and other items during the COVID-19 outbreak. In 2020, the Attorney General’s office took action against many businesses and individuals seeking to profit from consumer panic during the pandemic.
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.
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. (NOTE: This category does not include robocalls, which has its own category.)
Internet (1,275 complaints). A significant number of these complaints involve online purchases, as well as computer communications and technology, and internet service providers.
Personal Service Providers (953 complaints). This category covers dating services, beauty companies, fitness facilities, spas, home security and tax preparation services.
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.
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.
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.
Travel (547 complaints). This category includes complaints against travel agents, travel clubs, time-shares and time-share exit companies.
“In a year that was unprecedented in many ways, I want to thank our Consumer Protection Team for their resilience and dedication to ensuring that every complaint was addressed,” said Nessel.
Throughout National Consumer Protection Week and the entire month of March, consumers can follow along on the Department’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages for daily consumer protection information.
Your connection to consumer protection is just a click or phone call away. Consumer complaints can be filed online at the Attorney General’s website, or by calling 877-765-8388.