Do-not-call violations and telemarketing abuses ranked as the fastest-growing consumer complaints last year, according to a report released Wednesday.
Three Maryland agencies participated in the annual survey by the Consumer Federation of America and the North American Consumer Protection Investigators. The survey compiled the top, worst and fastest-growing complaints.
The Howard County Office of Consumer Affairs, the Maryland Attorney General's Office and the Montgomery County Office of Consumer Protection were among 43 agencies from 23 states that responded.
"Despite the national do-not-call registry, strict rules concerning robocalls, and other protections, unwanted and fraudulent phone calls are still plaguing American consumers,” Susan Grant, director of Consumer Protection at Consumer Federation of America, said in the group's announcement.
Scammers are getting away with phone abuses with the help of technology such as Internet phone service, caller ID spoofing software, prepaid cell phones and auto-dialers, the report found. Other fast-growing complaints fell in the categories of home improvement, used car sales, utility billing and Internet sales
Here are the top 10 overall complaints:
1. Auto misrepresentations in advertising, sales, repairs and towing.
2. Shoddy home improvement or construction or failure to start or finish a project.
3. Credit and debt billing and fee disputes, mortgage-related fraud, credit repair or debt relief service or predatory lending.
4. False retail advertising, deceptive merchandise, problems with rebates or gift cards
5. Misrepresentations, shoddy work or failure to have required licenses for services.
6. Service or billing disputes with phone, cable, Internet or electric and gas providers.
7. Landlord/tenant problems, such as failure to make repairs
8. A tie between misrepresentations or failure to deliver in door-to-door solicitations and deceptive Internet sales.
9. Misleading claims or failure to deliver in health-related products or services
10. Fraud, such as bogus sweepstakes and lotteries and work-at-home schemes