Based on a recent study, chip-enabled cards used without appropriate technology and tax ID theft are the fastest-growing and most costly consumer complaints. People are often contacted by someone claiming to be from the IRS, a utility company, or a tech-support company, and asked to send money or provide personal information. This is a common danger sign of fraud as reported in a recent study of consumer complaints by the Consumer Federation of American and the North American Consumer Protection Investigators.
This report identified the following as the top ten most common sources of consumer complaints:
- Motor vehicle misrepresentations in advertising along with sales of new and used cars, lemons, faulty repairs, leasing and towing disputes
- Home improvement, such as inferior work, and failure to start or complete the job
- Utility service problems and billing disputes
- Credit and debt concerns, such as billing and fee disputes, mortgage fraud, credit repair, debt-relief services, predatory lending, abusive debt-collection tactics
- Retail sales problems related to deceptive ads, defective goods, problems with gift cards and certificates, rebates and coupons
- Services with poor or incomplete work, lack of licensing
- Landlord-tenant concerns, such as unsafe or unhealthy conditions, lack of repairs, and unfair eviction
- Furniture, appliances, and household products that are faulty or not properly repaired
- Health products and services with misleading claims
- Fraud and scams, such as phony sweepstakes, work-at-home schemes, deceptive online sales
Two additional recently reported scams are the “grandparent scam,” in which a phony grandchild calls an older person claiming to need quick cash for an emergency. With the CEO scam, employees are contacted with what appears to be an email from their company asking them to wire money to a foreign supplier for a deal that needs to close immediately with a promise to be reimbursed.
For additional information on current frauds and scams, go to:
- Have students present a talk with actions that might be taken to avoid consumer scams.
- Have students create a list of common consumer complaints among their friends.
- Why are people often victims of consumer frauds?
- What are common suggestions for avoiding various consumer scams and frauds?