Debt collection tops attorney general's list of consumer complaints

The Detroit News
To recognize National Consumer Protection Week, Attorney General Dana Nessel's office released a top 10 list of complaints

Debt collection was the top complaint among Michigan consumers in 2018, Attorney General Dana Nessel's office announced Monday.

To recognize National Consumer Protection Week, her office released a top 10 list compiled by analyzing the nearly 9,000 written complaints filed last year, when the department recovered more than $1.6 million in consumer refunds, forgiven debts and state recoveries.

The highest-ranking categories were:

1. Credit and Financial Concerns: The top category since 2006 and covering areas including credit repair, payday lending, and mortgage brokering. The AG's Office fielded 911 complaints in 2018 and about half stemmed from credit reporting and collection.
2.    Telecommunications, cable, and satellite TV: Although moving up from No. 3 the year before, complaints involving robocalls, telemarketing, wireless communications, and cable and satellite TV services were down more than 10 percent in 2018, the state said.
3.    Motor vehicles and automobiles: Complaints against used-car dealers continue to top the category, with others involving motor vehicles and car bodies, new car dealers and passenger car rentals.
4.    Internet: Nearly half of the complaints involved online purchases; some were filed against computer communication and internet service providers. 
5.    Retail: Up from No. 6 last year, retail complaints included those about general merchandise, food and furniture stores, business services, and eating and drinking places.
6.    Contractors: Consumers filed 20 percent more complaints than in 2017 for issues such as residential building construction services, landscaping services, plumbing, heating and air condition services, and special trade contractors.
7.    Personal service providers: Complaints ranging from dating services and beauty shops to home security and tax preparation services dropped 43 percent from 2017, a year the state saw many complaints against western Michigan-based gym chain Family Fitness.
8. Landlord and tenant: This category had a 15 percent increase with nearly 500 complaints, most involving apartment owners and managers. Complaints against mobile home site operators and condominium associations accounted for about 10 percent each of the total complaints, the AG's Office said.
9. Health service providers: Complaints involving health-service providers such as doctors, dentists, hospitals and medical clinics declined 7 percent last year.
10. Gasoline, fuel, and energy: The category remained steady in 10th place, with complaints against gasoline service stations as well as gas and electric services.

Nessel's office said residents can submit a complaint by visiting or calling 877-765-8388.

“Michiganders work hard for their money, and as the state’s chief consumer advocate, it is up to us to help them understand their consumer rights and protect them from bad actors," Nessel said in a statement.

Meanwhile, the attorney general’s team is scheduled to host two free seminars on phone, mail and e-scams from 12:05-12:50 p.m. Thursday at Mennen Williams Auditorium, 525 W. Ottawa Street, Lansing and the same time Friday at Detroit's Cadillac Place – Room L150; 3068 W. Grand.

The AG's Office also plans two free seminars on identity theft at those sites on April 4 and 5.