HARRISBURG, PA – Consumer complaints to the Attorney General’s Office, along with money recovered or saved for Pennsylvania consumers, both reached record high levels this past year, according to Attorney General Tom Corbett.
Corbett said the Attorney General’s Bureau of Consumer Protection received a total of 52,481 complaints during 2009 – more than 1,000 complaints per week and an all-time high for the office. He added that as a result of investigations and legal actions brought by the Attorney General’s Office during 2009, consumers were able to recover or save $32,337,939 – which is also a record figure.
“With many Pennsylvania families struggling economically, it is clear that con artists are targeting our communities,” Corbett said. “The biggest category for complaints involves money, including scams, credit repair schemes, debt collection disputes and a list of other financial issues.”
Corbett noted that nearly 10,000 complaints involved some type of credit-related issue in 2009. Overall, they accounted for nearly 20% of all the consumer complaints received by the Office of Attorney General and were almost double the number of complaints in any other category.
“Helping consumers avoid scams and recovering money for the victims of fraud or deceptive trade are our highest priorities,” Corbett said. “In 2009 we returned or helped save consumers more than $32 million, the largest amount in recent history for consumer protection cases in Pennsylvania, but we continue to stress that prevention is the best way to save money.”
Corbett encouraged consumers to:
Watch out for offers that sound “too good to be true.”
Check the consumer advisories on the Attorney General’s website for updates about new scams.
Understand your rights as a consumer.
Contact the Bureau of Consumer Protection as soon as you suspect a problem.
Corbett said that consumer complaints in Pennsylvania increased by more than 13% between 2008 and 2009, with complaints about credit and financial issues topping the list.
“The quicker and earlier the Bureau of Consumer Protection can get involved in a situation, the more likely it is that we can save consumers money and prevent people from falling victim to fraud,” Corbett said.
The top five categories for consumer complaints in 2009 are:
Credit Issues (including debt collection, credit services, credit ratings, credit repair and other financial issues).
Do Not Call violations.
Buying Services (including gift certificates, coupons & rebates, mail order & catalog services, auctions, promotional contests and sweepstakes).
Motor Vehicle Sales.
Home Improvement Contractors.
Corbett urged consumers to file formal complaints with the Attorney General’s Office in any situation where they suspect that a business has engaged in deceptive practices or unfair trade.
Consumers can visit the “Complaints” section of the Attorney General’s website to submit an online complaint or download a printable complaint form.
Additionally, consumers can call the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Hotline at 1-800-441-2555 to request a complaint form.
Information about consumer rights and other related materials are available in the “Consumers” section of the Attorney General’s website.