Fed up with telemarketing calls? You've got plenty of company
If you can help solve a crime, please contact the appropriate police agency. Duke Behnke/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin
Had your fill of unsolicited calls from telemarketers who want to extend your automobile warranty or lower your credit card interest rates?
Join the crowd.
Telemarketing again topped the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection’s (DATCP) list of consumer complaints. The agency received 4,147 complaints in 2017. It was an increase of more than 12 percent from the 3,685 complaints in 2016 and a 62 percent increase from 2015.
A news release from the DATCP stated that a “significant number” of complaints last year stemmed from unsolicited calls to renew extended automotive warranty service contracts and reduce credit card interest rates.
“Imposter scams” were also a major issue last year, the DATCP noted, with scammers falsely claiming to represent government agencies and businesses such as the Internal Revenue Service, utility companies and Microsoft Tech Support.
"It is critical that consumers continue to report the unwanted and unsolicited calls they receive to DATCP," said Michelle Reinen, director of the Bureau of Consumer Protection. "In an effort to enforce the state's Do Not Call laws, DATCP follows up on every telemarketing complaint we receive and attempts to identify the caller.”
Here is the remainder of the top 10 complaint list:
No. 2: Landlord/tenant (1,141 complaints; up 20 from 2016). The complaints commonly involved security deposit returns, evictions, unauthorized entries, inadequate disclosures and unsatisfactory services.
No. 3: Telecommunications (763 complaints; up 65 from 2016). This category pertains to complaints involving long-distance, cellular phone, internet, satellite and cable services — along with bundled service packages.
No. 4: Identity theft (453 complaints; up 22 from 2016). Complaints involved data breaches, tax identity theft and fraud.
No. 5: Home improvement (403 complaints; up 20 from 2016). Most complaints involved a failure to provide services, charges for work not provided, failures to honor warranties, improper installations and poor workmanship.
No. 6: Gas pumps (232 complaints; down 34 from 2016).These complaints, which were received by the Bureau of Weights and Measures, centered on concerns about gas pump accuracy and credit card skimmers in gas pumps.
No. 7: Medical services (195 complaints). The primary complaints for this category, which is new to the top 10 list, focused on billing disputes, misrepresentations and unauthorized charges. This category covers medical services related to clinics, hospitals and professional services in the medical field — not complaints about medical devices or products.
No. 8: Motor vehicle repair (182 complaints; down 18 from 2016). The majority of complaints involved unauthorized charges, workmanship and failures to provide services or honor warranties.
No. 9: Motor vehicle sales (149 complaints; down 24 from 2016). Inadequate disclosures and misrepresentations were the top complaints.
No. 10: Fuel quality (113 complaints; up 33 from 2016). These complaints were received by DATCP's Bureau of Weights and Measures and dealt with the quality of fuel at retail stations.
Overall, the state agency received 10,756 complaints to the Bureau of Consumer Protection and another 456 to the Bureau of Weights & Measures.
Nearly $2.7 million in funds were returned by the agency to Wisconsin, typically in mediated refunds, negotiated settlements or court-ordered restitution.
How to file a complaint
For additional information or to file a complaint, visit the Consumer Protection Bureau at https://datcp.wi.gov, call the Consumer Protection Hotline at 1-800-422-7128 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.