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Top Ten Consumer Complaints of 2010

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In the wake of the lingering real estate reckoning, skyrocketing foreclosure rates, and high unemployment and underemployment, folks all across the U.S. had a lot to complain about in 2010. But last year’s well publicized economic troubles were matched by less-reported consumer outrage at a range of financial and privacy concerns sweeping the nation.

In an attempt to get at what’s really getting under the skin of average Americans, the Federal Trade Commission recently released a report of the top consumer complaints it received in 2010.

So, without further adieu, the countdown of top ten consumer complaints in 2010 includes:

#10 - Credit cards: This old standby on the consumer pet peeve list made the top ten despite new protections imposed by the 2009 Credit CARD Act, with well over 30,00 complaints filed about problems with plastic.

#9 - Telephone and mobile services: Think your phone plan is poor? Join the club. Telephone and mobile services got a bad reception last year as a confusing array of service options as well as poor quality customer service prompted 37,388 people to file complaints about these standard communication tools.

#8 - Foreign money/counterfeit check scams: Travel and investment scams were no holiday for the 43,866 complainers in this category last year.

#7 - Internet auctions: In this era of increased connectivity, during which regulatory agencies are struggling to keep up, fraudulent online auctions prompted 56,107 people to file complaints with the FTC.

#6 - Imposter scams: For the first time, imposter scams—in which strangers pose as friends, family or reputable businesses to swindle you out of money—jumped into the consumer complaint top ten list, causing the FTC to issue a new consumer alert, “Spotting an Imposter”, to aid average Americans in their efforts to avoid being hoodwinked.

#5 - Shop-at-home and catalog sales: Defective items, consumer-unfriendly return policies, and lack of customer services were just some of the reasons the FTC received more than 60,000 consumer complains about these tradtional transactions.

#4 - Prizes, sweepstakes and lotteries: In these tough economic times, many people are turning to games of “luck” to shore up an uncertain financial future. This “eye on the prize” presented itself in the 64,085 complaints filed concerning prize, sweepstakes and lottery scams, accounting for about five percent of total complaints.

#3 - Internet services: Similar to mobile services, many people complained about fraudulent online offers or subpar Internet service, landing these virtual providers in third place for most consumer complaints at 65,565.

#2 - Debt collection: With mounting debt loads pervading many households throughout the country, it’s no wonder more and more people are getting unwelcome calls from an array of creditors. As a result, abusive debt collection practices prompted 144,159 consumers to file complaints last year (11 percent of all complaints).

#1 - Identity theft: For more than a decade now, identity theft has sat atop the top ten consumer complaints, accounting for 19 percent of all complaints filed (250,854).

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