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Here are Colorado’s top 10 consumer complaints in 2021

13,970 complaints and inquiries were filed last year

In observance of National Consumer Protection Week, which runs from March 6 through March 12, Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser’s office released a list of the most common types of consumer complaints in the state.

Weiser, a Democrat, encourages people to file complaints about product or quality issues, incorrect billing, false advertising, deceptive business practices and more. Complaints help the attorney general’s office identify common violations and hold bad actors accountable.

Consumers filed 13,970 complaints and inquiries with the Consumer Protection Section in the Colorado Department of Law, representing a 15.1% increase from 2020. Here are the topics that Colorado consumers had the most to complain about in 2021:

1. Retail sales: 1,266 complaints

This category includes complaints related to unauthorized memberships or subscriptions, service and delivery issues, and subscription or membership cancellation issues.

One example of a retail sales issue: When the pandemic hit, international ticket reseller StubHub initially refused to provide refunds for canceled events. The company eventually cooperated with the attorney general and provided $3.12 million in ticket refunds to nearly 8,700 Colorado consumers, according to a September statement from Weiser’s office.

2. Unemployment scams: 995 complaints

The “challenging nature of collaboration” between state, local and national law enforcement agencies can present a difficulty in prosecuting unemployment fraud, Weiser said during a virtual news conference Monday. It can also be difficult to track down perpetrators who live outside the U.S., he added.

Still, the Colorado Unemployment Fraud Task Force that Weiser launched one year ago has referred 17 criminal cases for prosecution to Colorado’s district attorneys, Weiser’s office and the U.S. attorney’s office, according to a Friday statement. The amount of unemployment benefits that were allegedly stolen through those 17 fraud cases totaled more than $300,000.

3. Automotive sales and services: 758 complaints

Given the soaring prices of used cars and supply issues with auto parts, Weiser’s office is seeing more complaints related to vehicle purchases, service and repair, and rentals.

Whenever there’s a tough supply and demand issue, Weiser said, “Sometimes people will try to pull a fast one, and that’s something that we don’t stand for.”

Other top complaints

The other top seven complaint categories in 2021 included product warranties and business support services; home and commercial building repairs; vacation and travel; debt collection; health care; internet and phone services; and real estate sales.

The top financial issues Colorado consumers reported to the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in 2021 included incorrect information on credit reports and credit reporting agencies failing to fix problems, according to a Monday statement from The Colorado Public Interest Research Foundation, or CoPIRG. Part of the nonprofit’s mission is to protect consumers in the financial marketplace.

On Monday, CoPIRG released a guide to finding mistakes on your credit report and step-by-step instructions for using credit freezes to protect against identity theft.

How to file a consumer complaint

Before filing a complaint about a company or individual with Weiser’s office, consumers are encouraged to keep a record of all interactions with the company or individual they plan to report. Next, Weiser’s office says, take some time to objectively evaluate the situation – separating facts from emotions – to understand the problem and what resolution you are seeking.

Before reporting the problem, Weiser’s office recommends one more step: reaching out to the company or seller. Send the complaint to a salesperson or customer service representative, and if that doesn’t work, try the management team or corporate offices.

Finally, visit coag.gov/file-complaint to file a complaint online. Report scams, fraud and price gouging to the attorney general’s consumer protection team, Stop Fraud Colorado, by calling (800) 222-4444 or visiting StopFraudColorado.gov.

The attorney general’s office has also developed a resource guide with information for consumers, including the relevant federal authorities who can help with certain issues.

To read more stories from Colorado Newsline, visit www.coloradonewsline.com.