Robocalls and 9 Other Things That Really Annoy Americans

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Alamy
Sure, you're on the government's Do Not Call Registry, and all sorts of rules prevent robocalls, but those annoying calls keeping coming and coming -- and coming. If getting peppered with sales calls, scams and pitches that you don't want to hear irks you, you have a lot of company.

Telemarketing abuse was the fastest-growing category of complaints by consumers in 2013, according to an annual survey of state and local consumer protection agencies, released Wednesday by the Consumer Federation of America and the North American Consumer Protection Investigators.

H
ere are the top categories of complaints from consumers, according to the survey of 40 agencies in 23 states:
  • 1. Autos. Whether it's deceptive sales tactics, lemons, repairs that go wrong or disputes over towing or leasing, no category generates more complaints.
  • 2. Home improvement and construction: Lousy workmanship and failure to finish the work are typical complaints. So is taking a deposit and not doing any work at all.
  • 3. Credit and debt. We all have bills, and not all companies are honest and fair in how they do business. Disputes over bills, fees, allegations of mortgage fraud and deceptive credit repair and debt relief services are among the issues that led consumers to complain. Shady or illegal debt collection also caused problems.
  • 4. Retail sales. Not getting a rebate you submitted and ads that dupe you into thinking you're getting something that you're not joined complaints over coupons, gift cards and defective products.
  • 5. Services. Problems with services such as yard work, computer repair and tax preparation include poor work and failure to do the work.
  • 6. Utilities. Have you ever had a problem dealing with your provider of phone service, cable, Internet, gas or electric? So have plenty of other consumers.
  • 7. Landlord and tenant issues. Living conditions, failure to fix things, not providing something that was promised and fights over money propelled this category.
  • 8. (tie) Home solicitations. All those annoying phone calls, solicitations by mail and sketchy door-to-door sales fueled consumers' ire.
  • 8. (tie) Internet sales. On top of the deceptions that consumers report, another big problem isn't getting products that were ordered.
  • 9. Health products and services. Can you lose weight and tone up by wearing a different pair of sneakers? No, but you can lose money. Other deceptive claims and a failure to provide the service are among the complaints consumers had.
  • 10. Fraud. Whether it's a call that tells you that you won the Jamaica lottery, can get a government grant or make big bucks working from home, scams of all flavors propelled this category into the top 10.
The consumer groups' report noted that foreign-based scams are particularly problematic, as consumers wire money or send it via prepaid card after getting calls that appear to be local. Telemarketing fraud, the groups noted, is become more sophisticated with the ability to give calls the illusion they are coming from trusted businesses or a local number when they're really coming from a fraudulent operation overseas.

What can you do when you encounter one of these issues? Avoid unsolicited offers that seem too good to be true. Keep good records of your dealings with businesses. Reach out to state and federal agencies that are here to help you.


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19 Comments

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Greg Brooks ME

Did you say bother. Robo calls are like a home invasion. I could shove the phone down the throat of the person responsible for setting up a robo call. The NRA is one of the best robo call players in the business.

August 01 2014 at 6:07 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Kay

In the past month I have received over 20 calls from the same 'number!' I says it is from my local phone exchange which is not that large. At first I answered it thinking it was someone I knew, but it turned out to be one of those "credit card interest reduction" calls. I have even told them that I do not even have a credit card but the continue! I am not getting calls that the caller ID says is from my own phone! If I don't recognize the number on my caller ID I don't even answer them anymore. The political calls are the ones that are driving me crazy now. I got a research call four times in one day when I wasn't home. When I finally was there to answer I told the lady to take me off their call list and I have not gotten a call since! But I am so sick of the political ad calls, please Mr Politician, Stick those calls where the sun doesn't shine! I am not going to answer them and don't listen to them at all. Plus, I vote by absentee ballot and I have already turned mine in so please LEAVE ME ALONE!!!!!

July 31 2014 at 11:42 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
flowkay3

re: Spoofing numbers. I am dealing with a serial phone harrasser. He has been calling me and hanging up, sending robocalls, using other people to harass me going on 5 years. I have over 150 fake numbers that were sent to my phone. You can never find out who it is. I have changed my number to unlisted and he got it in 3 days. So it looks like the only way I am going to get rid of him is if I die.

July 31 2014 at 8:52 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
tygrrrress

I dropped a home line years ago and haven't missed it. My only number is a cell. I downloaded an app named Call Control. Well worth paying for. It'll block calls by state, area code and the company maintains a database of the fake callers.. Puts an end to the spammers. I don't even get a ring, just a notice that X call was blocked. Do Not Call registry is a joke.

July 31 2014 at 8:18 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
szuehl.steven

I have caller ID. If I don't recognize the number, I won't pick up the phone. Also junk mail sometimes comes with a postage paid envelope inside. I send other junk mail back to them.

July 31 2014 at 3:59 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
gmsexton

actually the worst of the bunch is the fact that every time you give a little information out regardless of where, a store, on the internet, where ever, it comes back to haunt you. with stupid junk mail or spam email. i am sick of looking something up then EVERY page i open shows me everything i looked at in the way of a consumer good or service. it's just plain creepy, these retards think you will buy something just because they keep flashing it in front of you. i literally tracked my home mail for 6 months... 550 pieces of mail.... 15 were cards or letters for my birthday or holidays, 535 pure sh*t. i literally have the recycle bin at the mail box...

July 31 2014 at 12:16 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to gmsexton's comment
alfrankenfool

Using junk mail is an excellent way to start a fire in the wood stove.

July 31 2014 at 12:23 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to alfrankenfool's comment
Fred

Yes, I've used it for that purpose for years.

July 31 2014 at 4:41 PM Report abuse rate up rate down
texastotenmom

the muslim clown must be impeached n removed from our white house in handcuffs in 2014 n deported along with all his disease ridden illegal immigrants that this muslim clown let "BREAK" into america with there ebola n mersa ZZZZZZ America is "painfully" waiting ZZZZZZ

July 31 2014 at 10:20 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to texastotenmom's comment
hecd.ag

Stop pretending to speak for America. Speak for the only person you are authorized to speak for.....yourself.

July 31 2014 at 12:04 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
5 replies to hecd.ag's comment
Dan

I'm signed up with my State and Federal Do Not Call outfits and I'm getting more calls than ever. All these companies have to say when you make a complaint is you entered a supermarket sweepstakes or sent a rebate request on a product and it is legal for them to call you at all hours of the day and night. It's enough to make you want to cancel your phone service.

July 31 2014 at 8:40 AM Report abuse +5 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Dan's comment
mizzjan56

I couldn't drop phone service because my mom resides in a nursing home, and she (or the home) need to be able to get ahold of me. But I did change my phone number...and wrote it in GIANT numbers on my mom's table by her phone. I did NOT re-register with Do Not Call. I still have my old number printed on my checks, and I won't change that. Have had NO sales calls in over 6 months. Heaven!

July 31 2014 at 2:54 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to mizzjan56's comment
Fred

I went to a 'bundle' package, that phone number is plugged in but phone is off/muted, Number I use for all times a number needs to be given for something. I sometimes see it lit up where companies are calling. My cell is the number friends/family know to call to contact me. Nice 6 dollar piece of mind.

July 31 2014 at 4:48 PM Report abuse rate up rate down
Craig

It is funny how things have change, Years ago people were proud of the work they did and would not be afraid to put their name on it. NOW, they are proud to to say how much money they made for doing nothing and ripping a client off. To bad I have been told "That's OLD School" Now it is get the money and run, their will alway be another person I can scam. Honesty is no longer a Norm
But the politics of gov't set they example. How much can i get away with before getting in trouble, They will just move me to a different department same pay, I lose nothing.

July 31 2014 at 7:20 AM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply