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Internet and housing issues among top 10 consumer complaints received by NY AG in 2021

Router Internet
Posted at 12:13 PM, Mar 07, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-07 12:13:53-05

NEW YORK (WKBW) — New York Attorney General Letitia James has released a list of the top 10 consumer complaints received by the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) in 2021.

The most complaints received were for internet-related issues and landlord/tenant disputes ranked number two on the list.

You can find the full list below:

1. InternetInternet-Related (internet services and service providers, data privacy and security, digital media, data breaches, frauds through internet manipulation).8346
2. Landlord / TenantLandlord/Tenant Disputes (security deposit releases, tenant-harassment).3144
3. Retail SalesRetail related (price gouging, defective merchandise, poor customer service, pet stores, and animal breeders).2678
4. ServicesConsumer related services (COVID-19 testing facilities, alarm companies, dry cleaners, restaurants, movers, services for personal household use).2610
5. AutomobileAutomobile (sales, service, financing, repairs)2283
6. CreditCredit (debt collection, credit card billing, debt settlement and debt relief, payday loans, credit repair, credit reporting agencies, identity theft)1539
7. UtilitiesUtilities (wireless and residential phones, energy servicers and suppliers, cable, and satellite)1145
8. Home Repair/ImprovementHome Repair/Improvement (repair issues, deceitful contractors)1034
9. Health ClubsHealth Clubs (inability to cancel memberships, inability to access facilities, refunds not provided, no response from clubs)778
10. Furniture/AppliancesFurniture/Appliances (defective merchandise, delivery problems, and service and repair issues).611
Let this list serve as a warning to all New Yorkers to keep their guard up against scam artists. From inaccurate turnaround times for COVID-19 test results to deceitful debt collectors, scammers took advantage of these difficult times to mislead and deceive New Yorkers. My office is committed to rooting out fraudsters and protecting all New Yorkers, young and old, from harm. Consumers have been valuable in helping my office identify and eradicate fraud, and I urge them to remain vigilant and follow these tips.
- AG James

AG James offered the tips below to protect you from future scams:

Internet

  • Do not use the same password for multiple accounts. Cybercriminals use passwords stolen from one company for other online accounts. Earlier this year, Attorney General James announced that a sweeping investigation by her office had identified more than 1.1 million online accounts compromised in credential stuffing cyberattacks on just 17 well-known companies [lnks.gd]. New Yorkers can protect themselves with the following safeguards:
  • Never reuse passwords. While reusing login information may be convenient, it also puts consumers at risk. A password manager on a phone or computer can keep track of passwords, automatically filling them in when they log in to a website or an app.
  • Enable two-factor authentication (2FA): 2FA can provide an extra layer of security by requiring anyone logging in to an account to provide another credential, such as a one-time code sent by SMS or email.
  • Check your online accounts regularly for unauthorized transactions and immediately contact your online service (or credit card company, if appropriate) if you see something suspicious.
  • Register with a breach notification service, like Have I Been Pwned [lnks.gd], that will send a notification if an account associated with your email or phone number has been compromised.

Landlord/Tenant

  • Your landlord must return your security deposit within 14 days of you moving out. If your landlord takes any money out of the security deposit for damages, they must provide an itemized receipt describing the damage and its cost. If your landlord doesn’t give you this receipt within 14 days of moving out, then they must return your entire security deposit, whether there is damage or not. If your landlord fails to comply, you may be entitled to up to twice the amount of the security deposit.
  • If you are having trouble paying your rent, please contact your local Department of Social Services. To find offices across the state, check  https://otda.ny.gov/workingfamilies/dss.asp [lnks.gd]. NYC residents can call 311 and ask about rental assistance programs. More resources are available here: https://ag.ny.gov/coronavirus/tenants-rights#pay-rent [lnks.gd]

Retail Sales

  • If you see unconscionably excessive prices for at-home COVID-19 testing kits or other goods vital and necessary for health, safety, and welfare, you are encouraged to report it to my office immediately.
  • Free COVID-19 testing kits are available from the U.S. Government at www.covidtests.gov [lnks.gd].

Consumer related services

Automobile

  • Beware of deceptive sales tactics when purchasing or leasing a car. New and used automobile prices keep climbing, due to factors such as high demand and a global semiconductor shortage, which are a critical component of new automobiles. Never sign any documents or leave the dealership with a car until you have reviewed all of your paperwork carefully. Do not sign a blank document that does not have numbers or terms filled in.
  • Make sure that what you are signing is consistent with what the salesperson told you and that you are not being charged for any extra accessories or products that you did not ask for, such as warranties, tire and wheel protection, and vin etching. Ask the salesperson or finance manager about any fees or charges you do not understand and whether they are required by law.

Credit

  • If you have debt in collection, debt collectors are required to provide you with key information about the origin and history of your debt within five days of their first communication with you. You also have a right to dispute the debt, and once you do, the collector must stop all attempts to collect from you until they provide information supporting their claim to the debt.
  • Debt collectors cannot harass you, and must follow limits on how, and how often, they contact you.  For example, they cannot call you more than seven times in any seven-day period and cannot call you between 8 PM and 9 AM. You have the right to tell debt collectors not to contact you by email or text message or any other means of communication, and you may tell them not to contact you at all.
  • Starting on April 7, 2022, creditors cannot sue you, or threaten to sue you, on debts that are older than three years. Prior to April 7, creditors cannot sue you, or threaten to sue you, on debts that are older than six years, or even less, depending where the original company or person you owed the debt to is located. 

Utilities

Home Repair/Improvement

  • Many of our homes have suffered wear and tear due to the pandemic. Before entering into a contract, shop around for estimates, check in with the Better Business Bureau, suppliers and neighbors for references.
  • Know your rights: You have three days after signing a home improvement contract to cancel it.

Health Clubs

Furniture/Appliances

  • Always find out what a furniture or an appliance retailer’s return policy is before making a purchase. Some online retailers require customers to pay for return shipping which can make it cost-prohibitive for people to return bulky furniture or appliances.