NEW YORK (WKBW) – New York Attorney General Letitia James has released a list of the top 10 consumer complaints received by the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) in 2021.
Most of the complaints received concerned internet-related issues, and landlord-tenant disputes ranked second on the list.
The full list is below:
|1. Internet||Internet related (internet services and service providers, privacy and security, digital media, data breaches, internet manipulation fraud).||8346|
|2. Landlord/Tenant||Landlord/tenant disputes (deposit release, tenant harassment).||3144|
|3. Retail Sales||Related to retail (price gouging, defective goods, poor customer service, pet shops and pet breeders).||2678|
|4. Services||Consumer related services (COVID-19 testing facilities, alarm companies, dry cleaners, restaurants, movers, personal household use services).||2610|
|5. Automobile||Automobile (sales, service, financing, repairs)||2283|
|6. Credit||Credit (collections, credit card billing, debt adjustment and forgiveness, payday loans, credit repair, credit bureaus, identity theft)||1539|
|7. Utilities||Utilities (wireless and home phones, energy service providers and suppliers, cable and satellite)||1145|
|8. Home Repair/Improvement||Home Repair/Improvement (Repair Problems, Fraudulent Contractors)||1034|
|9. Gyms||Health Clubs (Unable to cancel memberships, unable to access facilities, refunds not given, no response from clubs)||778|
|10. Furniture/Appliances||Furniture/household appliances (defective goods, delivery problems and service and repair problems).||611|
Let this list serve as a warning to all New Yorkers to beware of scammers. From inaccurate turnaround times for COVID-19 test results to fraudulent collection agencies, scammers took advantage of these trying times to mislead and deceive New Yorkers. My office is committed to eradicating scammers and keeping all New Yorkers, young and old, out of harm’s way. Consumers have helped my office identify and eliminate fraud, and I urge them to remain vigilant and follow these tips.
– AG James
AG James shared the following tips to protect you from future scams:
- Don’t use the same password for multiple accounts. Cyber criminals use passwords stolen from one company for other online accounts. earlier this year, Attorney General James announced that a comprehensive investigation by her office has identified more than 1.1 million online accounts compromised in cyberattacks with credentials on just 17 well-known companies [lnks.gd]. New Yorkers can protect themselves with the following safeguards:
- Never reuse passwords. While reusing login information may be convenient, it also poses a risk for consumers. A password manager on a phone or computer can track passwords and automatically fill them in when they log into a website or app.
- Enable Two-Factor Authentication (2FA): 2FA can provide an extra layer of security by requiring anyone logging into an account to provide additional credentials, such as a password. B. A one-time code sent via SMS or email.
- Check your online accounts regularly for unauthorized transactions and contact your online service provider (or credit card company if applicable) immediately if you see anything suspicious.
- Register with a security breach notification service, such as was i pwned [lnks.gd]that sends a notification when an account linked to your email address or phone number has been compromised.
- Your landlord must return your deposit within 14 days after you move out. If your landlord takes money out of the damage deposit, they must provide a detailed receipt describing the damage and its cost. If your landlord does not give you this receipt within 14 days of moving out, they will have to refund your entire deposit, whether there is any damage or not. If your landlord does not comply, you may be entitled to double the deposit.
- If you have problems paying your rent, please contact your responsible social welfare office. To find offices across the state, check https://otda.ny.gov/workingfamilies/dss.asp [lnks.gd]. NYC residents can call 311 and inquire about rental assistance programs. More resources are available here: https://ag.ny.gov/coronavirus/tenants-rights#pay-rent [lnks.gd]
- If you see the unscrupulously inflated price of COVID-19 home testing kits or any other commodity that is vital and necessary to your health, safety and well-being, you are encouraged to report it to my office immediately.
- Free COVID-19 test kits are available from the US government at www.covidtests.gov [lnks.gd].
Consumer Related Services
- Beware of deceptive sales tactics when buying or leasing a car. New and used automobile prices continue to rise due to factors such as high demand and a global shortage of semiconductors, which are a critical component of new automobiles. Never sign any documents and never leave the dealership with a car until you have carefully reviewed all of your paperwork. Don’t sign a blank document that doesn’t contain any numbers or words.
- Make sure what you are signing matches what the seller told you and that you are not being charged for any additional accessories or products that you did not request such as: B. Warranties, tire and wheel protection and wheel etching. Ask the seller or finance manager about any fees or charges you don’t understand and whether they are required by law.
- If you have a debt to collect, collection agencies must provide you with important information about the origin and history of your debt within five days of their first communication with you. You also have the right to contest the claim and once you have done so the collector must stop all attempts to collect from you until they provide information proving their entitlement to the claim.
- Collection agencies must not harass you and must set limits on how and how often they contact you. For example, they may not call you more than seven times in seven days and cannot call you between 8:00 p.m. and 9:00 a.m. You have the right to instruct collection agencies not to contact you by email, text message or any other means of communication, and you can tell them not to contact you at all.
- Effective April 7, 2022, creditors can no longer sue or threaten to sue you for debts older than three years. Before April 7, creditors cannot sue or threaten to sue you for debts older than six years or less, depending on where the original company or person to whom you owed the debt is located .
- Many of our homes have suffered wear and tear from the pandemic. Before signing a contract, seek estimates, check with the Better Business Bureau, suppliers and neighbors for references.
- Know your rights: You have three days after signing a home improvement contract to cancel it.
- Always check a furniture or appliance retailer’s return policy before making a purchase. Some online retailers require customers to pay for return shipping, which can make returning bulky furniture or appliances unaffordable for customers.