Debt Collectors, Unauthorized Charges, Loan 'Modifiers' Top Gripe List

gripe listRude debt collectors brought in the top number of complaints to one Attorney General's office last year. Next on the list? Telemarketing scams, say BBB officials.

The Better Business Bureau and Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster released a list of its top 10 scams for 2010, and most involved consumers releasing personal information such as credit card, debit card or bank information -- only to see money disappearing from their accounts.The top complaints to the Missouri AG's office include:

  • Debt Collectors -- Consumers logged 2,225 complaints saying they were being harassed by debt collectors. They said the callers were abusive and threatening when trying to collect a debt. The Federal Trade Commission has a Debt Collection FAQ on consumer rights spelling out when debt collection agencies cross the line.
  • Credit and Debit Cards -- Telemarketers brought in more than 1,575 complaints. Specifically, people said they had money taken through unauthorized charges and debits. Officials say that, unless you initiate the call, don't give out your information over the phone.
  • Telephone Cramming -- There were 1,477 concerns regarding this practice, which is when consumers' phone bills are charged for services they did not order, even for $1 or $2. Watch your phone bill, and if you see unauthorized charges, contact your phone carrier. File a complaint with your local attorney general as well as the Federal Trade Commission if you have problems receiving credit for the charges.
  • Mortgage/ Loan modifications -- Homeowners filed 1,204 complaints regarding foreclosure and loan modifications. Lenders requested the same paperwork over and over, and lost files. Often consumers who received temporary loan modifications did not get a permanent resolution.
  • Home repair and remodeling -- Typically the most common consumer complaint concerns home improvement and repair contractors. The worst ask for money up front but then don't provide services, or bill for an amount far and away above the estimate. One recent scam involved clearing snow off the roof.

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