Kevin Hunt: The Biggest Consumer Complaints Of 2013


Scammers don't have to file annual reports. The Federal Trade Commission does it for them.

The FTC received more than 2 million complaints in 2013, most frequently about identity theft (290,056). American consumers reported $1.6 billion in fraud losses, according to the FTC's just-out Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book.

In Connecticut, the state Department Of Consumer Protection received more than 6,000 complaints in 2013. With identity theft and fraud complaints typically channeled to the FTC, the state's Top 10 runs heavy with complaints about fuel and home improvement or new-home construction.

Fuel oil companies were the 2013 complaint leader with 567, many related to the abrupt closing last fall of Ace Oil in Meriden. As usual, people complained about gas pumps (194), even free air (28).

For 2014, the DCP warns consumers about tech-support scams, where someone calls claiming to represent Microsoft or another familiar software company. The caller says a virus or other type has been detected on the consumer's computer and asks for remote access to the PC or offers to sell unnecessary software.

"One red flag with any type of scam, the 'company' wants to be paid in advance," says DCP spokeswoman Claudette Carveth. "This goes for job scams, Nigerian letter scams, sweepstakes scams and tech-support scams. Increasingly nowadays, the preferred method of payment is by pre-paid card, [like] 'green dot.'"

And now, the year in complaints:

State DepartmentOf Consumer Protection

1.Fuel (Gasoline, Propane, Oil): 1,050 (17.5 percent of all complaints)

2.Home Improvement/New Home: 870 (14.5 percent)

3.Telemarketing 458 (7.6 percent)

4.General Retail: 307 (5 percent)

5.Occupational: 217 (3.6 percent)

6.Real Estate: 204 (3.3 percent)

7.Restaurant: 143 (2.3 percent)

8.Internet Sales: 139 (2 percent)

9.Auto Dealer: 113 (1.8 percent)

10. Debt Collection: 75 (1 percent)

Total: 6,008.

How to file a complaint: Click here. Telephone: 860-713-6300860-713-6300, 1-800-842-26491-800-842-2649.

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