Investigators

NC elderly hit the most by scams in 2018; Top 10 list of complaints is revealed

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) -- There are always scammers out there trying to steal your hard earned money and here in North Carolina, you might be surprised about who is being scammed most frequently.

 The North Carolina Attorney General’s office has put together its list of top 10 scams for 2018, which can give you an idea about what to watch out for this year.

More than 19,000 complaints poured into the state attorney general’s consumer protection division last year. 

The circumstances surrounding those complaints are part of the AG’s Annual report

The number one complaint was scams against the elderly, with more than 4,000 files last year.

“Scammers use all kinds of deceptive pitches,” said Attorney General Josh Stein. “They play on people’s fears.”

Stein says his office was able to recover almost $2.5 million from elderly scammers and refund it back to victims.

Robo calls and telemarketer calls are the number two complaint that the attorney general’s office had to deal with over 1,600 of them. 

“All of our phones are just lit up with all these spoofed and robocalls," says Stein. “It drives all of us crazy.”

 More than 5,000 complaints were received regarding various deceptive business practices including problems with auto body shops, event producers, debt collectors, and others who failed to deliver promised services.  

North Carolina experienced two hurricanes last year and that pushed price gouging complaints into the top 10 scams list. 

Despite the internet and constant warning about price gouging, Stein says the scammers still try.

“People will use all kinds of tricks,” said Stein. “For instance, they’ll say one price and deliver a contract with another price or will falsely claim 'they are there on behalf of the insurance company' when they are not."

 the hurricanes Florence and Michael, Stein’s office prosecuted six different companies he says were engaged in price gouging to prevent them from ever doing business in North Carolina again.

All told, the attorney general’s office says it was able to recover nearly $23 million in settlement money for those who’d been victimized last year in various schemes and scams.

Here is the complete 2018 Top 10 list:

1.    Elder fraud: Elder fraud covers a variety of scams that target vulnerable senior citizens, including sweetheart, IRS, and grandparent scams. Officials received 4,035 complaints of elder fraud, and $2.3 million was refunded to victims of elder fraud.

2.    Telemarketing and Do-Not-Call: Telemarketing issues include unauthorized telemarketing scams, charitable solicitations, and violations to the Do Not Call registry. Officials received 1,663 telemarketing and do-not-call complaints.

3.    Motor vehicles: The complaints involve car rentals, buying or selling new or used cars, failures to disclose car damages, recreational vehicles, and auto repair issues. Authorities received 1,551 motor vehicle complaints.

4.    Lenders: Lending complaints include concerns about mortgage lenders, creditors, and debt adjustment practices. NCDOJ received 1,144 lending complaints. 

5.    Home repairs: There were 1,077 complaints involving home improvement and repair, construction, and home and lawn care.

6.    Price gouging: NCDOJ received 942 price gouging complaints after Hurricanes Florence and Michael and the winter storms that hit North Carolina in 2018.

7.    Healthcare: This includes complaints cover health services and products, as well as professional services from hospitals, doctors, and other healthcare Officials received 784 healthcare complaints.

8.    Telecommunications: Telecommunications complaints involve concerns with cellular providers and telephone utilities. There were 701 telecommunications complaints.

9.    Cable TV and satellite: These are complaints against cable TV and satellite service providers with a state-issued franchise. Officials received 614 cable TV and satellite complaints.

10. Credit: Credit-related complaints involve credit reporting, recovery, and collecting agencies. NCDOJ received 597 credit complaints.


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