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DOJ releases top 10 list of consumer complaints in 2013

Every year in March, in recognition of National Consumer Protection Week, the Oregon Department of Justice releases its top 10 list of consumer complaints from the previous year. This year would be no different.

“My office is dedicated to protecting Oregonians from scammers and crooked companies,” said Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum. “National Consumer Protection Week is the perfect time to talk about some things Oregonians should be looking out for.”

Atop that list in 2013 were complaints about health spas, primarily from residents who paid for services in advance, only to have difficulty recovering those fees when the service wasn’t as advertised. By far the majority of the complaints were about Forever Young Oregon, a laser hair removal, skin tightening and wrinkle removal business with locations in Hillsboro, Beaverton and Prineville. The DOJ investigated Forever Young in 2010 and reached a $30,000 settlement, according to a story in The Oregonian, but 31 additional complaints were filed in 2013.

As has become common in the past few years, telecommunications companies were the brunt of hundreds of complaints in Oregon last year. Typically the complaints involve miscalculated fees for mobile phone services, as well as issues with satellite and cable television and Internet service providrers, although the number of complaints decreased slightly last year, according to a release from the DOJ.

Next up on the list were complaints about motor vehicle sales, of which the numbers remained constant from the prior year. Used car dealers account for the majority of the complaints, although the DOJ received a significant number of complaints about new car dealers last year.

Fourth on the list was an amalgam of complaints about financial services, including jabs at credit card companies, commercial banks, investment firms, credit bureaus, payday loan businesses, debut reduction services and consumer lending agencies. The list’s fifth spot similarly took aim at collection agencies.

Homeowners lodged plenty of problems in 2013 and that earned complaints about real estate credit firms, loan servicers, loan modifiers and mortgage bankers the sixth spot on the list.

Then there is No. 7, health related complaints, including those lodged against physicians, dentists, pharmacies and hospitals and about medical products, food supplements and medical discount cards.

In the eighth spot were complaints about magazine sales agents, while the tenth spot was reserved for a perennial favorite, motor vehicle repairs.

Complaints about international money transfer scams was ninth on the list. The DOJ reported a 36-percent drop in complaints about money transfer scams from the prior year, although 172 residents reported more than a million dollars in losses last year. DOJ officials said they suspect many victims in Oregon don’t report the scams and recovering the losses proves difficult.

The complete DOJ list is available online at http://bit.ly/1ouIMEe. To file a consumer complaint, determine complaints filed against a business and to sign up for the DOJ scam alert network, visit www.oregonconsumer.gov




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