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Credit Complaints Up

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For the third year in a row, home repair and telephone slamming remained the top two consumer complaints in the office of Illinois Attorney General Jim Ryan. In 1997 consumer credit problems were ranked number six, but for 1998 rose to number three.

In 1998, the Consumer Fraud Bureau of the Attorney Generals office received nearly 24,000 individual consumer complaints. A full tenth of those complaints, 2,395, involved construction and home repair problems. Slamming, or switching a consumers phone service without his or her consent, was a close second with 1,788 complaints. Consumer credit problems, such as billing errors or unsolicited credit cards, made a giant leap from 927 complaints in 1997 to 1,630 in 1998. Cramming, the newest telecommunications fraud, is number five on the top ten list, and represents unauthorized monthly charges to a consumers phone bill.

Listed below are the top ten areas of consumer complaints received by the Attorney Generals Office in 1998:

*Home Repair
*Contests, Promotions
*Slamming and schemes
*Mail Order
*Used Vehicle Sales
*Electronic Devices
*Business and Professional Services
*Auto Repair

Attorney General Ryan suggests some of the following common sense tips to avoid becoming a victim:

–Never give out credit card or other personal information to people you dont know.

–Do business with individuals or businesses you either know personally or who have been referred to you by someone you trust.

–If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is, and should be avoided.

–Never be pressured into making a quick decision, which you might regret later.

The Consumer Fraud Bureau believes that the complaints actually received are only a fraction of the real story. Many people who are victimized simply dont report the scam.

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