Consumers in the New York City area complained the most about issues with financial services companies last year, officials said.
The Better Business Bureau of Metropolitan New York received 7,267 complaints in 2011 on issues ranging from fees on credit cards to delays in refinancing home mortgages, Claire Rosenzweig, president and chief executive officer of the group, said at a press conference today. It was the top category out of a total 63,000 business complaints the agency gathered last year.
“A lot of the financial services complaints deal with mortgages and credit cards,” Rosenzweig said. “Mortgages and mortgage loan modifications and refinancing, there’s a lot of activity in that area.”
Representatives from New York state and city agencies along with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission listed consumers’ top complaints and frauds at today’s event in Manhattan to alert consumers about scams and how to protect themselves.
Nationally the FTC received more than 1.8 million complaints from consumers last year. More than half, or 55 percent, were related to any type of fraud, costing individuals more than $1.5 billion, according to a report the agency released last week. The top-ranked category was identity theft, the FTC said.
“No matter what goes on in the economy, fraud is persistent,” said Len Gordon, regional director in the Northeast for the FTC. “In good times and bad the fraudsters are very opportunistic and out to take people’s money.”
Consumers should beware of solicitations to wire money, provide personal information, pay upfront fees for help with debts or give a real estate agent a deposit before getting keys to a rental property, officials from the agencies said.
Colorado had the highest per capita rate of reported fraud and other types of complaints last year, followed by Delaware and Maryland, according to the FTC. New York ranked No. 36.