Not much of a surprise there but a closer look at the information collected by The Consumer Federation of America shows some interesting new changes in the fastest growing consumer complaints.
The top five fastest-growing complaints last year were about fraud, debt collection abuses, Do Not Call violations, mortgage-related problems, and home improvement. Also, the top five worst complaints last year involved mortgage-related problems, home improvement, timeshare sales and resales, Internet sales, and fraud. “Worst” is based on the number of complaints about a particular subject, the dollar amount involved, the impact on particularly vulnerable consumers, the outrageousness of the situation, the agency says.
Mortgage and foreclosure problems have become increasingly problematic for consumers. That’s of course the result of the bursting of the housing bubble followed by problems where homeowners owe more on their mortgages than their homes are worth. It hasn’t stopped there.
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The report today from the CFA notes some anecdotes by consumers with those kinds of run-ins. Here’s one:
In another example of mortgage modification madness, a consumer complained to the Louisiana Attorney General’s Office that he tried for eighteen months to work out a loan modification with Bank of America, repeatedly filling out documents and sending them as instructed, only to be told that more was needed. After being notified that his loan modification had been approved and asked to fill out more papers, which he never received, he got a call from the bank telling him that he had in fact been turned down. No explanation was provided, and his home was placed into foreclosure, despite the fact that he had successfully completed the trial payments and had a friend who was prepared to provide financing.
The CFA notes that consumers can get free help from the government by going to www.makinghomeaffordable.gov or talking to a housing counselor certified by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development by calling 888-995-4673.
Of course, foreclosures weren’t the only financial problem for consumers. Debt collection is an ongoing issue too. In Georgia for instance, “debt buyers” who purchase uncollected debt for pennies on the dollar from creditors are topping the list of complaints there. One such debt buyer threatened consumers with arrest and imprisonment, the CFA notes. It refused to provide consumers with proof of the debts, collected more than the amount owed, threatened to call consumers’ employers and garnish their wages, calledg repeatedly – sometimes as much as 50 times a day – and outside of the times of day that are allowed, and continued to call after consumers told them to stop.
The other big complaints at the top of the list? Auto. This one is actually #1 on the list and relates to misrepresentations in advertising or sales of new and used cars, lemons, faulty repairs, leasing and towing disputes. Home construction problems are #3 on the list including shoddy work, failure to start or complete the job.
See the full report from the CFA and the North American Consumer Protection Investigators (NACPI) here.
Taken from: http://www.forbes.com/sites/halahtouryalai/2012/07/31/top-10-consumer-complaints-mortgage-and-debt-collection-problems-are-the-fastest-growing/