Telemarketers are complaints top consumer complaints in Wisconsin

Increase in complaints blamed on imposter calls
Telemarketers are complaints top consumer complaints in Wisconsin
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A cell phone and a car charger.

Complaints about telemarketers topped a state agency’s list of consumer complaints in 2016, and malicious imposter calls caused a major increase in the category.

The Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) said it received 3,685 telemarketing complaints last year, an increase of nearly 45 percent over 2015.

“We heard from consumers, loud and clear, that these phone calls were a troubling and unwelcome interruption in their daily lives last year,” said Frank Frassetto, division administrator for trade and consumer protection. “The crooks behind these calls have no regard for your schedule or peace of mind and will use any trick to convince you to turn over money or personal information.”

Many of the complaints stemmed from calls claiming to come from the Internal Revenue Service or the U.S. Treasury. Other calls that led to complaints involved reducing credit card debt or offering help with computer tech issues.

“Phone scammers can ‘spoof’ or change what displays on your caller ID, so that information may not be trustworthy,” said Frassetto. “Don’t engage with questionable callers and report the calls to DATCP so we can track these operations and warn others.”

One positive sign in this year’s list was a drop in complaints about identity theft. Consumers filed 431 identity theft complaints with the state in 2016, down almost 48 percent from 2015. A total of 75 percent of identity theft complaints last year involved tax-related identity theft, in which someone files a fake tax return using a victim’s identity.

“A consumer’s best protection against identity theft is to take additional precautionary steps like limiting the amount of information they share unnecessarily and using two-factor authentication and complex passwords for online accounts,” said Frassetto.

Landlord-tenant complaints also dropped significantly in 2016 but remained second on the list.

Here’s a complete list of this year’s complaints:

CONSUMER COMPLAINT STATISTICS, 2016

2016 RANK

PRODUCT CATEGORY

2016 – # OF COMPLAINTS

2015 – # OF COMPLAINTS

1

Telemarketing

3,685

2,550

2

Landlord/tenant

1,121

1,407

3

Telecommunications

698

754

4

Identity theft

431

823

5

Home improvement

383

426

6

Gas pump accuracy

266

251

7

Motor vehicle repair

200

270

8

Motor vehicle sales
(new and used)

173

220

9

Computers and equipment

152

124

10

Warranties

138

76

A total of 10,346 complaints were recorded by the Bureau of Consumer Protection in 2016.

A total of 455 complaints (including the gas pump accuracy category,) were recorded by the Bureau of Weights and Measures in 2016.

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