She's not David Letterman, but Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan has her own Top Ten list.
Madigan released her list of top 10 consumer complaints Wednesday (March 2), detailing concerns of the 170,000 consumers who contacted her office’s Consumer Protection Division in 2010. In anticipation of National Consumer Protection Week, Madigan said the top complaints involved consumer debt as the job loss and home foreclosures continue to take a toll on Illinois consumers.
That consumer debt again topped the list of concerns in 2010 mirrors what Madigan’s office has seen in recent years as consumers struggle with pocketbook issues in a down economy. Complaints related to residential mortgages ranked highest among consumer debt concerns, showing that, much like 2009, people are still fighting to stay in their homes. Many consumers also contacted Madigan’s office over credit card debt and abusive collection practices.
Included in the more than 7,000 consumer debt complaints filed with Madigan’s office is a new attempt to evade recent reforms aimed at protecting consumers. Madigan also detailed the 27,630 formal complaints lodged with her office in 2010 by consumers affected by scams and fraud:
Consumer Debt Complaints Rank First in 2010
Complaints from consumers involving residential mortgages ranked highest among debt concerns, but also included problems with credit card debt and the availability of short-term, high-interest loans.
The top consumer debt issues reported in 2010 include:
More than 3,800 homeowners filed residential mortgage complaints with Madigan’s office in 2010. This mirrors what the Attorney General’s Office saw in 2009 as the foreclosure crisis began to expand beyond those homeowners who were placed in risky loans they could in reality never afford.
Last year’s complaints reflects a continued deepening of the foreclosure crisis as Illinois homeowners struggle under long-term unemployment and find they can no longer make their mortgage payments.
In 2010, more than 1,200 consumers reported complaints about collection agencies, including complaints that collection efforts were made without verifying a consumer actually owed the debt, through abusive tactics or by misleading demand documents made to look like official court documents.
Credit Card Companies
More than 700 consumers sought help for credit card company issues. Consumers reported problems with credit card balance transfers and introductory rate offers, or being charged a higher interest rate than originally quoted.
Identity Theft Complaints Rank Second
Concerns surrounding identity theft remained high for consumers in 2010, with 3,861 complaints reported. A significant number of those complaints involved:
- Credit card complaints (1,082), including reports of fraudulent charges to existing accounts and thieves opening new credit card accounts in the names of ID theft victims;
- Utility company complaints (527), concerning fraudulent utility accounts, such as cell phones or gas and electric service, opened in a victim’s name; and
- Bank fraud complaints (355), including complaints of stolen checks and new bank accounts opened in a victim’s name and fraudulent withdrawals from a victim’s bank account.
Category of Complaints:
- Consumer Debt (mortgage lending, collections, credit cards) 7,035
- Identity Theft (fraudulent credit cards and utility accounts, bank fraud)3,681
- Construction Home Improvement (remodeling, roofs/gutters) 2,175
- Telecommunications (wireless service, local phone service, cable/satellite) 1,917
- Motor Vehicles/Used Auto Sales (as-is sales, financing, warranties) 1,345
- Promotions and Schemes (sweepstakes, pyramid, work-at-home schemes)1,137
- Mail Order (Internet purchases, catalog ordering, television/radio) 1,043
- Fraud Against Business (consulting, directories/publications) 982
- Motor Vehicle/Non-Warranty Repair (collision/body, engines) 688
- Travel (promotions/sales, time shares, travel agents) 629
For more information, visit Madigan’s website, www.illinoisattorneygeneral.gov/consumers.
There are a range of hotlines for direct communication with consumers concerned about issues ranging from home foreclosure to identity theft:
- Chicago Consumer Fraud Hotline: 1-800-386-5438
- SpringfieldConsumer Fraud Hotline: 1-800-243-0618
- CarbondaleConsumer Fraud Hotline: 1-800-243-0607
- Spanish Language Hotline: 1-866-310-8398
- Identity Theft Hotline:1-866-999-5630
- Homeowner Helpline: 1-866-544-7151