Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum today recognized National Consumer Protection Week by announcing the Oregon Department of Justice’s list of the Top 10 Consumer Complaints in 2013.
“My office is dedicated to protecting Oregonians from scammers and crooked companies,” Attorney General Rosenblum said. “National Consumer Protection Week is the perfect time to talk about some things Oregonians should be looking out for.”
Complaints about health spas top the 2013 list, followed by complaints about telecommunications companies, motor vehicle sales, financial services, collection agencies, home owner services, health services, magazine sales, money transfer scammers, and motor vehicle repair.
Oregon has one of the most innovative consumer protection programs in the country. The program operates exclusively on funds recovered from businesses that break the law. DOJ obtained more than $2.6 million in refunds for Oregonians last year, without spending a single taxpayer dollar.
753 complaints about one failed business account for the vast majority of complaints in this category. The complaints largely relate to services Oregonians paid for in advance, only to have difficulty recovering pre-paid fees – a good reminder that it’s generally best to pay for services as they are received. The company is no longer doing business in the state, but a DOJ investigation into its business practices remains ongoing.
Complaints about providers of mobile phone services, satellite and cable television, internet and telephone services decreased slightly in 2013. Typical complaints allege that invoices are routinely miscalculated or that services are misrepresented.
Motor Vehicle Sales
DOJ received almost exactly the same number of complaints about car sales as it received in the prior year. Used car dealers account for the majority of the complaints, though DOJ also received a significant number of complaints about new car dealers.
International Money Transfer Scams
DOJ received 36% fewer complaints about these scams in 2013, dropping them to 9th on this year’s list. But 172 Oregon victims nevertheless reported more than a million dollars in total losses. Experts believe that many victims of these scams do not report them. These losses can be very difficult or impossible to recover. If someone you don’t know wants you to deposit a money order (or check), and then transfer money to them in return, it’s a scam.
For more detail, check out the complete list at https://www.doj.state.or.us/releases/pdf/2013_top_ten_complaint_list.pdf. To file a consumer complaint, find out about complaints others have filed against businesses, and sign up for the DOJ Scam Alert network, visit oregonconsumer.gov. While you’re there, check out a number of resources available to help you avoid becoming a victim. DOJ also offers a toll-free consumer hotline, 877-877-9392.
Kristina Edmunson, Department of Justice, Kristina.Edmunson@doj.state.or.us, 503-378-6002