Attorney General Letitia James highlighted some of the top scams New Yorkers are facing to kick off National Consumer Protection Week.
Citing the COVID-19 pandemic, James said that Internet-related and price gouging scams were the greatest threat to consumers, with thousands of complaints levied to her office during 2020.
The top 10 consumer complaints in 2020, according to James’ office:
- Internet-Related (internet services and service providers, data privacy and security, digital media, data breaches, frauds through internet manipulation): 9,832 complaints;
- COVID-19 Price Gouging (online and brick and mortar gouging of prices for items such as hand sanitizer, masks, gloves, bathroom tissue, food): 7,701 complaints;
- Landlord/Tenant Disputes (security deposit releases, tenant-harassment): 2,752 complaints;
- Health Clubs (continuous charging of fees while clubs were closed, inability to cancel memberships, refunds not provided, no response from clubs): 2,621 complaints;
- Automobile (sales, service, financing, repairs): 2,561 complaints;
- Consumer Services (security systems, tech repairs, immigration services, employment training): 2,512 complaints;
- Retail Sales (any sale of goods: food, clothing, rent-to-own, online orders): 1,609 complaints;
- Credit (debt collection, credit card billing, debt settlement and debt relief, payday loans, credit repair, credit reporting agencies, identity theft): 1,436 complaints;
- Utilities (wireless and residential phones, energy servicers and suppliers, cable and satellite): 1,378 complaints;
- Travel (inability to cancel or lack of refunds for cancellations required by COVID-19 travel restrictions): 1,251 complaints.
James also cautioned about new COVID-19 vaccine scams, fake vaccine cards, and purported cures to the vaccine, which are phony. Puppy scams have also been on the rise in the past 12 months, according to the Attorney General.
"The havoc unleashed by the COVID-19 pandemic, in addition to the numerous other ways consumers were defrauded in 2020, sadly resulted in my office receiving a record number of consumer fraud complaints in 2020,” James said. “Consumers who have helped identify and report issues to our office have been invaluable partners in our efforts to stop deceptive scams and will continue to be vital partners going forward.
"I urge all New Yorkers to follow these tips to minimize the risk of falling victim to fraud, but, when fraud does occur, my office will continue to fight to protect New York consumers.”
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