Attorney General Schmitt Announces Top 10 Consumer Complaints of 2020
JEFFERSON CITY, MO – The Missouri Attorney General’s Office received 116,684 consumer complaints in 2020. The Consumer Complaint Unit received 82,157 complaints and inquiries and the No-Call Unit received 34,527 complaints.
The Attorney General’s Office has a team of advocates who take complaints and work actively to mediate those complaints between consumers and businesses or individuals. When mediation efforts are unsuccessful and there are credible allegations of potential violations of the Missouri Merchandising Practices Act, the Attorney General’s Office has investigators to investigate instances of fraud and attorneys to file lawsuits wherever possible.
Consumers who wish to file a complaint can do so online at ago.mo.gov or by calling the Consumer Protection Hotline at 800-392-8222.
Top 10 Consumer Complaints in 2020 by industry were:
1. No-Call Complaints (34,527)
The Missouri Attorney General’s Office received 34,527 complaints from consumers regarding illegal telemarketing calls and No-Call violations in 2020.Complaints involve phone calls to Missouri residents by businesses or organizations soliciting the purchase of good or services.
2. Solicitations/Publications/Subscriptions (1,848)
The Missouri Attorney General’s Office received 1,848 complaints regarding mail and phone solicitations for publications and subscriptions. These complaints generally involve the receipt of mail and phone solicitations regarding sweepstakes, lottery, and other solicitation scams. Most involved scammers promising a valuable prize or high-dollar award to entice consumers to send money, buy overpriced products or services, or contribute to a phony charity. Consumers also filed complaints concerning solicitations alleging cures for COVID.
3. Financial (1,646)
The Missouri Attorney General’s Office received 1,646 complaints from consumers regarding debt collection companies, credit repair and disputes with financial institutions. Complaints under this category involve foreclosures, debt collection, loan servicing, and other products, services, and practices by banks, mortgage companies, debt collectors, service providers and other financial institutions. The Attorney General’s Office mediates complaints regarding loan modifications and foreclosures and will attempt to defer fees or foreclosures when appropriate. Debt collector complaints include allegations of harassing collectors who threaten the consumer. Complaints regarding financial institution and banks involve the imposition of fees and other charges occurring without notice to, or the consent of, consumers.
4. Retail/Wholesale (1,625)
The Missouri Attorney General’s Office received 1,625 complaints from consumers regarding retail and wholesale companies. Most of the complaints involved purchases made through the internet, telephone, or mail and involved late deliveries or products that were never delivered. Other complaints involved the purchases of appliances, furniture, and other items with warranty problems, that were defective, or that did not work as advertised. Other retail-related complaints included issues with rebates, coupons, and gift cards.
5. Automotive (1,490)
The Missouri Attorney General’s Office received 1,490 complaints from consumers regarding automobiles, automotive dealers, and automotive repair shops. Automotive complaints often involve failure to deliver titles in a timely manner from the dealership. Other complaints involve shoddy repair work and service issues.
6. Price Gouging (1,326)
The Missouri Attorney General’s Office received 1,326 complaints regarding price gouging. This is the first time price gouging has made the Top 10 list. Most of the complaints alleged price gouging during the initial stages of the pandemic. Complaints alleged an increase in the pricing of face masks, gloves, toiletries, food, and other items.
7. Communications/Technology/Online Services (1,256)
The Missouri Attorney General’s Office received 1,256 complaints from consumers regarding communications, technology and online services in 2020. Many complaints related to telephone cramming and billing practices where consumers received a phone bill for services that they did not order or were charged unauthorized fees on their telephone bill from third parties. Other complaints related to billing disputes and misleading promotions.
8. Real Estate and Construction – 1,221
The Missouri Attorney General’s Office received 1,221 complaints from consumers regarding home repair, construction, and real estate. Complaints involving home repair contractors are among the most common type of complaint received by the office. These types of complaints involve those who ask for money up front and provide little to no work, shoddy workmanship, and/or fail to honor home warranties.
9. Travel/Timeshares (1,184)
The Missouri Attorney General’s Office received 1,184 complaints from consumers regarding timeshare exit companies, time share companies and travel clubs. Complaints involved allegations that companies promised to resell timeshares and failed to do so, that companies failed to provide deeds for time shares that consumers purchased, and that companies charged undisclosed fees or unexpectedly and continuously increased fees for maintenance and other related services. Complaints also involved the sale of travel club memberships that promised discounts, opportunities, or services that were worthless or far less than promised.
10. Health (882)
The Missouri Attorney General’s Office received 882 health-related complaints from consumers in 2020. These complaints involved healthcare industry complaints, including billing issues regarding hospitals and doctor visits, supplemental purchases, and disputes regarding health insurance payments.