Imposter scams fastest-growing complaints to consumer protection agencies

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Imposter scams fastest-growing complaints to consumer protection agencies
Imposter scams fastest-growing complaints to consumer protection agencies

Phony IRS agents and other imposter scams topped the list of fastest-growing complaints to state and local consumer protection agencies last year, according to the latest report from the annual survey conducted by Consumer Federation of America and the North American Consumer Protection Investigators.

Thirty-three consumer agencies from 21 states participated in the survey, which asked about the most common complaints they received in 2015, the fastest-growing complaints, the worst complaints, new kinds of consumer problems, agencies' biggest achievements and challenges, and new laws they believe are needed to better protect consumers.

Scams of all types also were cited as among the worst complaints reported to state and local consumer protection agencies last year.

“Fraud is especially difficult because scammers aren't interested in resolving the problems,” said Amber Capoun, NACPI President and a legal assistant in the Office of the State Banking Commission in Kansas. “By the time consumers complain, the fraudsters have their money, and they intentionally use tactics such as spoofing their caller ID and email addresses and asking for payment via money transfer services or prepaid cards to make it hard to track them down.”

Tax ID theft and energy service-related complaints were the second and third fastest-growing complaints in 2015, respectively, according to the report.

The top 10 most common types of complaints the agencies said they received last year were related to credit/debt, retails sales, household goods, health products/services, internet sales, fraud and other issues.

The Special Committee on Aging maintains a fraud hotline (855-303-9470 or www.aging.senate.gov/fraud-hotline) that is staffed by investigators who link victims with relevant authorities. Fraud also may be reported on the Federal Trade Commission's website at www.ftc.gov/complaint or by calling 877-FTC-HELP.

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