Telemarketing tops list of Wisconsin consumer complaints - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Telemarketing tops list of Wisconsin consumer complaints

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MADISON, Wis. (WAOW) -

Telemarketing topped the list of complaints to the state Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection in 2017 - and they continue to grow, the agency reported Thursday.

Many of the 4,147 complaints involved calls to renew extended automotive warranty service contracts and to lower credit card interest rates, said Michelle Reinen, director of the Bureau of Consumer Protection.

"Imposter scams were also a major issue last year, with scammers falsely claiming to represent government agencies and well-known businesses such as the Internal Revenue Service, utility companies and 'Microsoft Tech Support' in an attempt to rip off call recipients," she said.

Telemarketing complaints were up 12 percent from 2016 and 62 percent from 2015, Reinen said in a statement.

"In an effort to enforce the state's Do Not Call laws, DATCP follows up on every telemarketing complaint we receive and attempts to identify the caller," Reinen said. "We also use the complaint information to identify trends, warn the public and help our federal partners build nationwide cases against the scammers behind the calls."

Here are the other top 10 complaint categories for 2017:

--Landlord/Tenant: 1,141 complaints, up 20 from 2016. Complaints commonly involved security deposit returns, evictions, unauthorized entries, inadequate disclosures and unsatisfactory services.

--Telecommunications: 763 complaints, up 65 from 2016. Complaints commonly involve a failure to meet the terms of an agreement, misrepresentations, billing problems and refund policies.

--Identity Theft: 453 complaints, up 22 from 2016. Complaints involved data breaches, tax identity theft and fraud.

--Home Improvement: 403 complaints, up 20 from 2016. Complaints commonly involved a failure to provide services, charges for work not provided, failures to honor warranties, improper installations and poor workmanship.

--Gas Pumps: 232 complaints, down 34 from 2016. These complaints involved concerns about gas pump accuracy and credit card skimmers in gas pumps.

--Medical Services: 195 complaints. Complaints involved billing disputes, misrepresentations and unauthorized charges.

--Motor Vehicle Repair: 182 complaints, down 18 from 2016. Complaints commonly involved unauthorized charges, workmanship and failures to provide services or honor warranties.

--Motor Vehicle Sales, 149 complaints, down 24 from 2016. Complaints involved inadequate disclosures and misrepresentations.

--Fuel Quality, 113 complaints, up 33 from 2016. These complaints centered on concerns about the quality of fuel at retail stations.

In all, the Bureau of Consumer Protection received 10,756 complaints and another 456 to the Bureau of Weights & Measures, Reinen said.

The agency returned nearly $2.7 million in funds to Wisconsin, most to consumers in the form of mediated refunds, negotiated settlements or court-ordered restitution.

To file a complaint, visit the Consumer Protection Bureau at https://datcp.wi.gov, ,call the Consumer Protection Hotline at 1-800-422-7128 or send an e-mail to datcphotline@wisconsin.gov.

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