Consumer Watch: CFA gives tips on what to watch for when spending money


by Andy Treinen

Posted on August 1, 2012 at 4:49 PM

Updated Wednesday, Aug 1 at 5:00 PM

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) - - With consumers still cautious about their money, a new survey finds they're not afraid to speak up.

The Consumer Federation of America and the North American Consumer Protection Investigators looked at almost 290,000 of last year's complaints to 38 consumer agencies for a top ten list.

“They're the kinds of transactions that consumers either make every day, like problems with retail stores, or they're problems involving enough money that it's worth complaining,” said Susan Grant from the Consumer Federation of America.  

The most common category of complaints is automobiles, including lemons and faulty repairs.

Disputes over credit and debt came in second, followed by home improvement and construction, retail sales, and utilities.

Misrepresentation of services was sixth. A tie between internet sales and landlord tenant disputes in seventh, fraud, then real estate. And a tie to round out the top ten are complaints about household goods, and home solicitations.  

New concerns included complaints about bed bugs in apartments, penny auctions on the internet, and gold-buying companies.

To protect consumers from scams and rip-offs, the CFA offers a few tips:

 -- Pay by credit card for added protections and don't pay in full upfront.

-- Get promises in writing

-- Help with financial problems like debt and mortgages. Use legitimate, verified sources.  

Some good news about all these complaints, the survey says agencies recovered or saved almost $147 million for consumers in 2011.