The top consumer issues last year spanned a wide range of fields, including auto insurance, mortgages, foreign lottery scams, loan modification and foreclosure assistance, several federal and state consumer groups announced Monday.
The Massachusetts Office of Consumer Affairs, the Better Business Bureau, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the Massachusetts Attorney General's office released the "Top Five" consumer issues last year.
Auto insurance issues topped the list for the Office of Consumer Affairs, according to a press release it issued. More than 10,000 people contacted the office and the state Division of Insurance with questions about claim delays, claims, adjusters and other issues.
About 7,700 people contacted the two state groups about health insurance issues.
"Specifically, consumers had questions surrounding continuity of care, such as what to do when a child was no longer covered on a policy, what to do when they switched insurance policies and how to handle transitioning insurance after a job loss," Massachusetts Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation Undersecretary Barbara Anthony said in the press release.
The Better Business Bureau's top consumer inquiries for eastern Massachusetts, Maine, Vermont and Rhode Island last year was related to mortgages. Other issues centered on used car dealers, contractors, home improvements and movers.
There were nearly 134,000 inquiries about mortgages last year in the region, according to the regional Better Business Bureau office.
"If you are not a savvy consumer, it can be very confusing," Paula Flemings, a regional spokeswoman for the Better Business Bureau, said about mortgages.
The type of business that generated the top number of complaints last year was collection agencies, the bureau reported. The 2,057 complaints were nearly double the number of complaints of the next industry. Banks drew 1,049 complaints and advertising received 992 complaints.
Fleming said consumers often call, complaining debt collectors have contacted the wrong person.
"It might be the right name, but they have the wrong home," she said.
Foreign lottery scams topped the list for the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, with fake checks, work-at-home scams, telemarketing scams and cross-border scams rounding out the list.
According to the Attorney General's office, unsolicited loan modification and foreclosure assistance was the biggest issue last year.
The office warned consumers against unsolicited calls that ask for up-front fees, which is illegal in Massachusetts. Other red flags are when the foreclosure assistance group guarantees positive results or is from out of state.
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