Robocalls and 9 Other Things That Really Annoy Americans

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Sure, you're on the government's Do Not Call Registry, and all sorts of rules prevent robocalls, but those annoying calls keeping coming and coming -- and coming. If getting peppered with sales calls, scams and pitches that you don't want to hear irks you, you have a lot of company.

Telemarketing abuse was the fastest-growing category of complaints by consumers in 2013, according to an annual survey of state and local consumer protection agencies, released Wednesday by the Consumer Federation of America and the North American Consumer Protection Investigators.

ere are the top categories of complaints from consumers, according to the survey of 40 agencies in 23 states:
  • 1. Autos. Whether it's deceptive sales tactics, lemons, repairs that go wrong or disputes over towing or leasing, no category generates more complaints.
  • 2. Home improvement and construction: Lousy workmanship and failure to finish the work are typical complaints. So is taking a deposit and not doing any work at all.
  • 3. Credit and debt. We all have bills, and not all companies are honest and fair in how they do business. Disputes over bills, fees, allegations of mortgage fraud and deceptive credit repair and debt relief services are among the issues that led consumers to complain. Shady or illegal debt collection also caused problems.
  • 4. Retail sales. Not getting a rebate you submitted and ads that dupe you into thinking you're getting something that you're not joined complaints over coupons, gift cards and defective products.
  • 5. Services. Problems with services such as yard work, computer repair and tax preparation include poor work and failure to do the work.
  • 6. Utilities. Have you ever had a problem dealing with your provider of phone service, cable, Internet, gas or electric? So have plenty of other consumers.
  • 7. Landlord and tenant issues. Living conditions, failure to fix things, not providing something that was promised and fights over money propelled this category.
  • 8. (tie) Home solicitations. All those annoying phone calls, solicitations by mail and sketchy door-to-door sales fueled consumers' ire.
  • 8. (tie) Internet sales. On top of the deceptions that consumers report, another big problem isn't getting products that were ordered.
  • 9. Health products and services. Can you lose weight and tone up by wearing a different pair of sneakers? No, but you can lose money. Other deceptive claims and a failure to provide the service are among the complaints consumers had.
  • 10. Fraud. Whether it's a call that tells you that you won the Jamaica lottery, can get a government grant or make big bucks working from home, scams of all flavors propelled this category into the top 10.
The consumer groups' report noted that foreign-based scams are particularly problematic, as consumers wire money or send it via prepaid card after getting calls that appear to be local. Telemarketing fraud, the groups noted, is become more sophisticated with the ability to give calls the illusion they are coming from trusted businesses or a local number when they're really coming from a fraudulent operation overseas.

What can you do when you encounter one of these issues? Avoid unsolicited offers that seem too good to be true. Keep good records of your dealings with businesses. Reach out to state and federal agencies that are here to help you.

7 Dangerous Recalled Products You Might Have in Your Home
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Robocalls and 9 Other Things That Really Annoy Americans
These devices keep basements from getting musty and help prevent it getting too clammy in your home on a summer's day. But many of them can cause fires. More than 2.5 million dehumidifiers (all made in China by Gree Electric Applicances) were recalled in 2013 and 2014 because they can start fires: Danby, DéLonghi, Fedders, Fellini, Frigidaire, GE (GE), Gree, Kenmore, Norpole, Premiere, Seabreeze, SoleusAir and SuperClima. Some 500 incidents involving these humidifiers overheating have been reported, including more than 100 that started fires. The humidifiers should not be used. Gree is arranging for refunds ($110 to $400) for anyone who bought one.
This reclined infant seat, designed for babies to sleep in, has been connected to at least six deaths by government investigators. Dozens more incidents also were attributed to the product made by the now-defunct Baby Matters. Consumers who have Nap Nanny products are urged to stop using them. A handful of retailers, including Toys R Us and (AMZN), offered refunds to their customers.
After a recall of hundreds of thousands of chenille robes sold by catalog retailer Blair over concerns about their flammability, the CPSC learned that at least nine women had died wearing robes that had ignited. The recall has been re-announced several times, a tactic typically taken when consumer response has been determined to be sub-par for the hazard.
About a million  strollers sold from 1999 to 2009 were recalled after the company and the CPSC began receiving reports of children's fingertips being chopped off by exposed hinges. The company provided a free repair kit.
More than 2 million of these magnetic toys were sold. Dozens of kids required medical treatment after swallowing the balls. The high-powered magnets can twist inside the intestines of anyone who swallows them, posing a risk of death or serious injury. Initially, the company, Maxfield & Oberton, refused to participate in the recall and rebranded the toy for adults. The government sued, and the company has since settled and is offering refunds.
Some recalled products are particularly problematic because they are so durable. Perhaps none have posed such as long-term hazard as the Lane cedar chest. In 1996,  Lane recalled 12 million chests, made between 1912 and 1987, after at least a half-dozen children died from suffocation after being trapped inside the chests. More deaths were reported since the recall, including two more this year. Lane offers a free replacement lock that prevents entrapments.
More than a dozen babies died in Simplicity cribs and bassinetsMillions were sold through 2010, marketed under reputable brands. But the now-defunct company was found to have turned a blind eye toward safety, making its cribs so poorly that they often exposed babies to risks of strangulation and suffocation.
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