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The Top Consumer Complaints

(Reuters) – U.S. consumers always complain about pushy car salesmen and debt collectors, but in 2012 they also faced an array of new and sometimes surprising challenges – like getting hit with fees just for questioning their bills, according to a recent survey.

The most common complaints filed with state and local consumer protection agencies once again focused on automotive sales and service, home improvement contractors and credit-related problems, according to the annual survey published by the Consumer Federation of America and the North American Consumer Protection Investigators, a professional group of government investigators.

There seem to some new players on the complaint list of Americans…  Dentists and optometrists in Virginia have had complaints filed against them for assessing fees to customers who complained about their bills to third parties.  Massachusetts officials reported a complaint about an online merchant doing the same thing.

Probably the fastest growing recipients of consumer complaints according to Reuters, involved towing disputes, debt collection, telephone service billing, landlord/tenant problems and unlicensed contractors.

Yet the complaints categorized as worst by state and local officials included home foreclosures,, post-disaster home repairs, work-at- home offers and elderly-focused scams. (We recently published an article addressing this very problem titled Grandparent Scams’ Steal Thousands from Seniors)

According to the Rueters’ story “One Massachusetts customer filled out what she thought was a payday loan application that actually was for a credit line on an online shopping site. The consumer did not draw any money from the line but was billed for having it – at a rate that equaled an annual interest rate of 1,000 percent.”

If you’ve experienced difficulties with a financial product, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) wants to hear from you. They will forward your issue to the company in you are having trouble with and provide you status updates, all from their website.

Once you submit a complaint about an issue you have had with a financial product or service, you will be able to login and track the status of your complaint.

The CFPB will forward your complaint to the company and do what they have to get a response.  If they determine that your complaint would be better served by another government agency, they will forward your complaint to them.

Once a response is received by the company you filed the complaint against, you will be able to review their response and send the CFPB your feedback.  Also, the information about the complaint is shared with state and federal law enforcement agencies, should it become necessary for law enforcement to become involved, they will let you know.

Complaints help the CFPB to “supervise companies, enforce federal consumer financial laws, and write better rules and regulations.” They also report to Congress about the complaints they receive and post some consumer complaint data.

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