Attorney General Hardy Myers today announced the Oregon Department of Justice Top 10 Consumer Complaint List for 2003 with more than 2,500 consumers complaining about telecommunications companies, placing that category as number one for the fourth year in a row. The list was revealed at a National Consumer Protection Week observance co-sponsored with the Postal Inspection Service based in Oregon.
The 2003 Top 10 Consumer Complaint List includes:
Provider Local Service
Cable & Satellite
2. Financial Institutions
Credit Cards Mortgage Brokers Real Estate Financing Consumer Lending Sales Financing Commercial Banking Credit Unions
|3. Internet Auctions ||
|4. Motor Vehicle Sales
New Car Dealers Used Car Dealers RV, Trailer, Campers Motorcycle
|5. Internet Retailers ||
|6. Collection Agencies||
|7. Auto Repair||
|8. Magazine Subscription Agents||
|10. Nigerian Money Transfer Schemes||
In 2003, 14,713 consumers filed written complaints with the Attorney General's consumer protection office. Of those, 34 percent used the Internet. Of the 5,073 complaints filed electronically, 4,077 used the Justice website, 522 were referred electronically by the National Fraud Information Center and 474 connected with Oregon Justice through the Internet Fraud Complaint Center. More than 2,200 complaints had Internet associations.
Complaints filed under Oregon's No Call law, although numbering more than 1,300 in 2003, were eliminated from the list due to the program's termination on October 1, 2003. Oregon's No Call program is currently preempted by federal law.
Attorney General Myers urges Oregonians to sign up for the National No Call Registry by registering both landline and cell phone numbers. Oregonians wanting to register may call toll-free at 1-888-382-1222 or online at www.donotcall.gov. Those registering by phone must call from the phone number they wish to register.
Under the number one category of telecommunications, consumers continue to complain about misleading advertising of long distance plans and "slamming," the practice of changing a customer's long distance service without their authorization. A large number of cellular complaints allege inadequate disclosure of early termination fees that oftentimes are hundreds of dollars.
Financial institutions are now number two on the list as consumers find unauthorized charges "crammed" on their credit card bills. Of the 1,395 complaints, only seven were filed against credit unions.
Internet auction complaints continue their rise on the list as they go from number four to number three. The increase is due in part to the popularity and ease of buying and selling on the Internet.
Complaints concerning the sale of new and used vehicles bumped up three categories on the list from seven to four and internet retailer complaints went from eight to five.
Collection agencies was number ten in 2002 and in 2003 is counted as number six. Complaints range from agencies not following the federal guidelines under the Fair Debt Collection Act to trying to collect for a debt not owed in the first place.
Auto repair had a decline in total numbers going from 423 complaints in 2002 to 350 in 2003 but went from number nine to number seven on the list.
Magazine subscriptions, travel and the Nigerian Money Transfer Scheme made up numbers eight, nine and ten, respectively. The Nigerian scheme dropped from number five to number ten due in part to the increase in consumer warnings and media attention.
Although not a category on the Top 10 Consumer Complaint List, the "financial literacy" of all ages of Oregonians is a huge concern for Attorney General Myers. "Each year, we see how easily credit is extended to consumers and how difficult it is to pay it off," Myers said. "As consumer educators, we hope to partner with the private sector to combat this problem through consumer finance educational forums.
Consumer wanting more information about consumer protection in Oregon may call the Attorney General's consumer hotline at (503) 378-4320 (Salem area only), (503) 229-5576 (Portland area only) or toll-free at 1-877-877-9392. Justice is online at www.doj.state.or.us.
Jan Margosian, (503) 947-4333 (media line only) firstname.lastname@example.org