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By the Numbers: Top Wisconsin Consumer Complaints

Telemarketing continues its streak at the top of the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection’s (DATCP) annual list of consumer complaints. “It is critical that consumers continue to report the unwanted and unsolicited calls they receive to DATCP,” said Michelle Reinen, Director of the Bureau of Consumer Protection. “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. 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.”

A significant number of 2017 telemarketing complaints were about unsolicited calls to renew extended automotive warranty service contracts and to lower credit card interest rates.

Imposter scams were also a major issue last year, with scammers falsely claiming to represent government agencies and well-known businesses.

For additional information or to file a complaint, visit the Consumer Protection Bureau at datcp.wi.gov, call the Consumer Protection Hotline at 800.422.7128 or send an email to [email protected]

1

Telemarketing complaints remain at the top of the heap. DATCP received 4,147 telemarketing complaints last year, 12 percent above the 2016 total and 62 percent more than in 2015.

2

The number of newcomers to the Top Ten complaints. Medical Services, a brand-new category, debuted at No. 7, with 195 complaints. The primary issues for this category were billing disputes, misrepresentations and unauthorized charges. Fuel Quality entered the list at  No. 10 with 113 complaints, up 33 from 2016. These complaints centered on concerns about the quality of fuel at retail stations.

403

At No. 5 was home improvement 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.

453

The number of complaints for identity theft, up 22 from 2016. Complaints involved data breaches, tax identity theft and fraud.

456

Total number of complaints to the Bureau of Weights & Measures in 2017.

763

The number of telecommunications complaints, up 65 from 2016. This category pertains to complaints involving long distance, cellular phone, internet, satellite, and cable services as well as bundled service packages, and commonly involve a failure to meet the terms of an agreement, misrepresentations, billing problems, and refund policies.

1,141

Number of landlord/tenant complaints, earning it the No. 2 position. That number is up 20 from 2016. Complaints commonly involved security deposit returns, evictions, unauthorized entries, inadequate disclosures and unsatisfactory services.

10,756

Total number of complaints to the Bureau of Consumer Protection in 2017.

$2.7 million

The amount the agency returned in funds to Wisconsin in 2017, the majority of which was returned to consumers in the form of mediated refunds, negotiated settlements or court-ordered restitutions.

Source:  Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection

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