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Housing, Home Issues Dominate Consumer Complaint Lists

According to the 2012 Consumer Complaint Survey Report July 31, 2013, conducted by Consumer Federation of America (CFA) and the North American Consumer Protection Investigators (NACPI), six of the top ten consumer complaints were in the housing sector.

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Those complaints involved home improvements, mortgages, utilities, home solicitations, landlord tenant issues and household goods.

The fastest growing complaints also included landlord/tenant problems and unlicensed contractors.

And, among the worst complaints (based on number, cost or outrageousness), foreclosure issues topped the list, followed by home repairs after disasters and work- at-home offers.

The annual survey, which collects data from state and local consumer protection agencies, also found auto, credit and debit card, retail sales and services among the top 10 consumer complaints.

Here's a more detailed look at the top 10. Home and housing related concerns are in bold type.

1. Auto - Misrepresentations in advertising or sales of new and used cars, lemons, faulty repairs, leasing and towing disputes.

2. Home Improvement/Construction - Shoddy work, failure to start or complete the job.

3. Credit/Debt - Billing and fee disputes, mortgage modifications and mortgage-related fraud, credit repair, debt relief services, predatory lending, illegal or abusive debt collection tactics.

4. Utilities - Service problems or billing disputes with phone, cable, satellite, Internet, electric and gas service.

5. Retail Sales - False advertising and other deceptive practices, defective merchandise, problems with rebates, coupons, gift cards and gift certificates, failure to deliver.

6. Services - Misrepresentations, shoddy work, failure to have required licenses, failure to perform.

7. Home Solicitations - Misrepresentations or failure to deliver in door-to-door, telemarketing or mail solicitations, do-not-call violations.

8. Landlord/Tenant - Unhealthy or unsafe conditions, failure to make repairs or provide promised amenities, deposit and rent disputes, illegal eviction tactics.

9. Internet Sales - Misrepresentations or other deceptive practice, failure to deliver online purchases.

10. Household Goods - Misrepresentations, failure to deliver, faulty repairs in connection with furniture or appliances.

The top five fastest-growing complaints in 2012 were:

1. Towing disputes.
2. Landlord/Tenant problems.
3. Abusive debt collection practices.
4. Telephone service billing issues.
5. Unlicensed contractors.

The agencies were also asked about the worst complaints they received last year. "Worst" could be based on the number of complaints, the dollar amount, the vulnerability of the consumers, or just the outrageousness of the situation.

The top five worst complaints were:

1. Foreclosure issues.
2. Problems with home repairs after disasters.
3. Sweepstakes scams and other frauds targeting elderly consumers.
4. Business opportunities and work-at-home offers.
5. Violations of do-not-call and other telemarketing rights.

Published: August 7, 2013

Use of this article without permission is a violation of federal copyright laws.

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A journalist for more than 35-years, Broderick Perkins parlayed an old-school, daily newspaper career into a digital news service - Silicon Valley, CA-based DeadlineNews.Com. DeadlineNews.Com offers editorial consulting services and editorial content covering real estate, personal finance and consumer news. You can find DeadlineNews.Com on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter  and Google+

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