Mo. Officials Tackle Variety of Frauds

January 3, 2005

For the second year in a row, unauthorized charges to phone bills and switching long-distance providers without the consumer’s consent topped the list of consumer complaints in Missouri, Attorney General Jay Nixon announced.

Total, Nixon’s office received an estimated 88,000 consumer complaint calls, letters, and e-mails in 2004. Final numbers, including consumer mediation dollars, will be available after the first of the year.

The most frequent complaint coming into Nixon’s office involved telephone services, specifically the practices known as “cramming” — adding services to a customer’s phone bill without their consent — and “slamming,” where long distance service providers are switched without permission. Slamming and cramming complaints accounted for 1,898 of the total as of Dec. 30.

Home repair fraud, with 1,595 complaints, and travel scams, at 1,355, also continued to be major areas of concern for consumers.

“Aggressive enforcement of the No Call law has resulted in a precipitous decline in telemarketing fraud, yet there are still those who will always try to find a way to make a dishonest buck,” Nixon said. “Missourians should feel empowered to contact my office any time they feel like someone is trying to pull one of these scams.”

The complete top 10 list of consumer complaints to Nixon’s office for 2004 are:

* Telephone slamming, cramming, billing: 1,898
* Home repair and remodeling: 1,595
* Travel scams and time shares: 1,355
* Unsolicited faxes: 1,148
* Financing: 1,025
* Auto repair: 925
* Credit: 906
* Auto sales: 889
* Debt collectors: 636
* Sweepstakes and lotteries: 592

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