ALBANY, N.Y. (WIVB) — A slew of frauds plagued New York residents last year, and Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has released which ones were most common.
“This serves as a reminder: fraudsters are always looking for ways to line their pockets at the expense of unsuspecting consumers,” Schneiderman said. “The best weapon against scams is an informed consumer – and the law. I encourage New Yorkers to report fraud, and my office will continue its long tradition of vigorously enforcing New York’s strong consumer protection laws.”
Here is the list:
1. Internet – 4,605 complaints
(internet services & service providers; data privacy & security; consumer frauds)
2. Automobile – 3,437 complaints
(buying, leasing, repair, service contracts, rentals)
3. Consumer-Related Services – 2,444 complaints
(security systems; restaurant/catering services; tech repairs)
4. Landlord/Tenant Disputes – 2,005 complaints
(Security deposit releases, tenant-harassment)
5. Utilities – 1,730 complaints
(Wireless and Residential Phones; Energy Servicers & Suppliers; Cable and Satellite)
6. Credit – 1,606 complaints
(debt collection; credit card billing; debt settlement; payday loans; credit repair; credit reporting agencies; identity theft)
7. Retail Sales – 1,214 complaints
(any sale of goods: food, clothing, rent-to-own)
8. Home Repair/Construction – 1069 complaints
(home improvement services not delivered or done poorly)
9. Mortgage – 921 complaints
(mortgage modifications; mortgage and loan broker fraud; foreclosures)
10. Mail Order – 715 complaints
(purchases made online or from a catalog)
The Attorney General also released a number of tips for common scams. They can be found here:
IRS scams: Beware of scammers posing as government officials via phone calls or emails. The IRS will never demand immediate payment or payment information over the phone. Do not engage this type of caller or provide any personal information and report the call to our office by submitting a complaint here or calling our consumer hotline at 1-800-771-7755. Scams should also be reported to the U.S. Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 800-366-4484.
Grandparent scam: Be suspicious of anyone who calls claiming to be your grandchild and asking you to immediately wire money or buy large dollar amounts of gift cards and provide the gift card information. Grandparents should verify any supposed emergency by calling friends and family before wiring money or buying gift cards. Learn more about common scams targeting senior citizens here.
Student Debt: Beware of phony student debt relief companies that claim to lower or eliminate student loan debt. Do not pay up-front fees. Students should contact their loan servicer themselves to see if any relief is available. For federal student loans such as Stafford or PLUS loans, students should ask if they are eligible for an income-based payment plan or if they qualify for deferment or forbearance.
Health Care Fraud: The Attorney General will soon be releasing a separate report about health care fraud complaints that it received in 2016. In 2015, the Health Care Bureau Helpline received 5,444 complaints. Of these complaints, the Helpline investigated and resolved 2,836 consumer complaints and provided another 2,608 consumers with information or referrals to the agency most appropriate for the inquiry. Along with other consumer relief discussed in the report for 2015, the Helpline secured approximately $2,781,000 for consumers in restitution and savings resulting from (i) incorrect medical billing; (ii) wrongful rejection of health insurance claims; and (iii) health plans’ failures to properly process insurance claims. The Health Care Bureau Helpline report for the calendar year 2015 can be found here.
News 4’s Al Vaughters has done a number of stories on scams targeting locals. See some of them below: