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Attorney General Brenna Bird Announces Top Ten Consumer Complaints of 2023

DES MOINES—Iowa Attorney General Brenna Bird today announced the top ten consumer complaints received by the Attorney General’s office in 2023. Last year, the Iowa Attorney General’s office heard over 3,700 complaints addressing more than 30 different industries and scam categories.

“Our office is hard-at-work to slam the scam and protect Iowans,” said Attorney General Bird. “Whether that’s by fighting crime or educating people on the red flags of a scam, we are here to help. In today’s digital age, some of the biggest threats Iowans face appear in the palm of their hand or because of a simple act of misplaced trust. Scammers are manipulative, and they will exploit our good faith and emotions to get what they want. But we won’t let them get away with it. As your allies in the Attorney General’s office, we are fighting to hold scammers accountable and equip Iowans with the knowledge to stay safe.”

The Iowa Attorney General’s office investigates fraud, seeks reimbursement and relief for Iowa scam victims, ensures fair competition in the marketplace, and aims to protect Iowans from falling victim to scams or fraud.

Top 10 Consumer Complaints in 2023:

1. Auto (637 Complaints)

Automotive complaints ranked first place in the top complaint types received in 2023, including: 

  • Parts and faulty repair work (164 complaints) 
  • Warranty plans and servicing (96 complaints) 
  • Failure to disclose prior damage in the sale of used cars (90 complaints)

Problem: 2023 showed the need to find a trusted mechanic and investigate a vehicle’s history when purchasing a used automobile. Other automotive-related complaints involved misrepresentations in advertising, issues with titling, potential deceptive financing, and repossession.

Tip: Warning signs someone may be getting scammed include surprise recommendations for complicated car repairs or a seller’s reluctance to produce the used vehicle’s history.

2. Internet (341 Complaints)

Problem: Internet complaints include social media issues such as locked or hacked accounts and scams. Additional complaints include billing or service disputes with internet service providers, technical-support scams, and unsolicited emails.

Tip: Iowans should vet online sellers, meet at secure locations, and avoid prepaying to prevent online marketplace scams.

3. Home Improvement (336 Complaints)

Problem: Home improvement complaints include contractors’ failure to start or complete jobs, poor workmanship quality, and issues with the sale, installation, and financing of solar panels.

Tip: To better protect themselves from fraud, Iowans should request itemized estimates of the expected work, thoroughly research a contractor and details of any home-improvement project, and seek referrals from trusted friends, family, and neighbors. Also, avoid paying large sums of money upfront.

4. Imposter (244 Complaints)

Problem: Common imposter scams include fake job offers, online shopping scams, lottery scams, romance scams, and IRS/social security scams.

Tip: Iowans can avoid scams by doing business only with established sellers, being wary of unsolicited messages, and avoiding sending money electronically (e.g., Cash App, cryptocurrency, PayPal, etc.) to people they have not previously met. Iowans should also be aware that law enforcement and government agencies will never threaten arrest for refusing to give information or pay money over the phone, nor will they demand that Iowans keep their conversations secret.

5. Home Goods & Services (230 Complaints)

Problem: Home goods and services complaints involve issues related to appliances, furnishings, and electronics. Iowans reported misleading or false advertising, late delivery times, faulty appliances, and refusals to replace furniture and other major appliances.

Tip: To avoid similar issues, Iowans should avoid large down payments and carefully research a company before doing business.

6. Personal Services (222 Complaints)

Personal services complaints involve problems with timeshare companies and other travel related experiences. Timeshare grievances include companies charging undisclosed fees and increasing fees for maintenance and other services. Complaints also allege companies did not resell timeshares, despite prior agreements, and refused to provide property deeds after Iowans purchased their timeshares. The top travel complaints involve flight delays or cancellations and the misrepresentation of costs. Also common is the sale of misleading exercise-club memberships that promise discounts and other amenities.

7. Healthcare (204 Complaints)

Problem: Healthcare complaints involve disagreements over health-insurance payments, billing related to hospital and doctor visits, deceptive treatments, and other “medical” products.

Tip: Health fraud is also common and can be prevented by consulting with health care professionals, steering clear of medications that promise a “quick fix,” and watching out for claims of “risk-free” money-back guarantees.

8. Loans (180 Complaints)

Problem: Loan complaints primarily involve card issues such as stolen cards, fraudulent charges, potential identity theft, and problems with card issuers. Also common are complaints involving personal loans, including internet-based loans and payday loans.

Tip: To avoid issues, Iowans are advised to regularly monitor card purchases, freeze cards immediately upon irregular activity, and report suspected fraudulent activity as soon as possible.

9. Housing & Realty (146 Complaints)

Problem: Housing and realty complaints involve rental housing, real estate sales, manufactured and mobile homes, and home building. Iowans often report false or misleading information and hidden, extra charges. Common complaints also involve mortgages, inflated appraisals, foreclosure scams, and the use of a false identity for loan applications.

Tip: To avoid similar issues, Iowans should familiarize themselves with rental and lease documents, analyze property valuations, receive referrals from trusted professionals or family, and verify accuracy of all information on loan documents.

10. Miscellaneous (194 Complaints)

Other common consumer complaints include problems with employment, home-safety devices, and personal disputes.

To report a potential scam, contact (515) 281-5926 or file a complaint here: https://www.iowaattorneygeneral.gov/for-consumers/file-a-consumer-complaint

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For More Information:

Alyssa Brouillet | Communications Director

(515) 823-9112

alyssa.brouillet@ag.iowa.gov