Medical billing issues, tax scams and student loan consolidators were among the biggest consumer thorns last year. These major concerns were accompanied by many of the other familiar complaints such as identity theft, home repair shams and collection agencies, according to a recent report.
The survey was released Wednesday July 29, 2015 by the Consumer Federation of America. Together, there were almost 300,000 complaints shared with the consumer advocacy group. Auto sales and repairs generated the most complaints, while collections were rated the most pressing problem by the consumer agencies.
America Sounds Off
During this year’s review, there were also some new issues that came to light. These included:
– Auto dealers trying to pass off used car deals as private sales.
– The electronic repair scam, in which consumers are called by telemarketers claiming the persons PC has a virus.
– The phone tax agency scam, in which a caller threatens the victim with imprisonment for unpaid taxes
– Other phone related scams such as loan consolidation offers or solar power installation, promising rebates that consumers don’t actually qualify for.
But the fastest growing complaint is still identity theft, which likely has a lot to do with this past year’s hacking incidents and major information breaches suffered by large corporations.
Debt collection, followed by service scams were named the “worst” complaints, based on the dollar amount involved or the impact on consumers.
Bogus offers of help for those with credit trouble, such as foreclosure assistance requiring up-front fees, also remained a big concern. According to the report, some homeowners have paid up to $8,000 in fees to a foreclosure consultant, but despite the consultant’s constant assurances that he was working with the lender to get a modification, he didn’t actually perform any work. By the time the homeowners figured it out, it was already too late.
The other major growth area for complaints included medical billing disputes. Many of those issues involved disputes between insurance companies and health care providers, which ultimately only hurt the consumers. One such case involved 40 speech therapy visits for a child that was supposed to be covered by insurance, but wasn’t. Four years later the parents had found themselves with ruined credit, until the Department of Law’s Consumer Protection Unit gained interest.
“State and local consumer agencies help consumers obtain justice by educating them about their rights and how to assert them,” stated a representative. They went on to say that these agencies help by “providing mediation services to resolve complaints and, in some cases, taking formal action to right wrongs in the marketplace.”
Resolve was in the works for those whose credit may have been affected by any of these types of situations. Consumers should first check their credit report over carefully. Everyone is entitled to a free credit report every year from each of the major credit reporting agencies through AnnualCreditReport.com. They can also get a free credit report summary updated every month on Credit.com to monitor for important changes.