Below are the top ten scams reported to the hotline in 2010:
1. DEBT COLLECTORS (2225 complaints) – there has been an increase in the number of complaints filed against debt collectors. Many consumers who file complaints indicate they are being harassed by debt collectors for debts they may not even owe. Others claim the debt collection agencies are abusive, threatening, and include repeated calls when attempting to collect a debt. Other complaints indicate consumers have notified the debt collection companies to cease contacting them, but without success.
In an effort to protect consumers from these abusive practices, the Attorney General has filed actions against debt collectors alleging violations of Missouri’s Merchandising Practices Act. The question of whether the Attorney General has the authority to protect these consumers is before the Missouri Court of Appeals.
2. CREDIT AND DEBIT CARD (1575 complaints) – telemarketers continue to find ways to scam consumers out of their money. Complaints continue to rise from individuals who have had their money taken through unauthorized debits from their checking account or by accessing their credit card information. Scams such as these can occur by telephone, email, or text messaging. The Missouri Attorney General continues to advise consumers not to provide any personal information to an unknown source and/or unless they initiate the call themselves.
These high-tech thefts violate state and federal criminal laws. The Attorney General prosecutes this fraud in the sale of merchandise.
3. TELPHONE CRAMMING (1477 complaints) – cramming happens when you receive a charge to your phone bill for services you did not order. For consumers to understand that they are a victim of telephone cramming means they have to thoroughly review their telephone bill. Cramming charges can be as small as $1 or $2 and consumers may not pay attention to such detail. In other cramming related charges, consumers may be charged a much higher amount and believe they actually owe the fee. The Missouri Attorney General advises consumers who notice unwarranted charges to contact your carrier and request the charge be removed.
This office has investigated numerous incidents of this fraud obtaining removal of the charges. In addition to filing a complaint with this office, consumers should notify the Missouri Public Service Commission, which regulates the carriers, at http://www.psc.mo.gov/file-a-complaint.
4. MORTGAGE/FORECLOSURE/LOAN MODIFICATIONS (1204 complaints) – many struggling homeowners have filed complaints concerning foreclosure on their homes and the loan modification process. Homeowners complain about the relentless requests for paperwork already provided and/or lost by the lender. In addition, complaints have been filed because consumers who actually get temporary loan modifications fail to get permanent solutions.
The Attorney General’s Office has been working alongside other attorneys general in a 50-state investigation, demanding that banks stop these abusive practices.