Missouri attorney general: Illegal telemarketing comprised 34% of consumer complaints

(The Center Square) – More than 34% of complaints filed with Republican Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey’s office in 2022 were for illegal telemarketing calls, according to a report.

No-call complaints, defined as phone calls to Missouri residents by businesses or organizations soliciting the purchase of good or services, totaled 39,102, and led the list of the top-10 complaints filed with the office. Robocall complaints far outpaced the second-rated complaint, real estate and construction, with 1,989 filings.

Bailey’s office on Wednesday announced a multi-state settlement in a case against two Texas businessmen. Eight attorneys general filed suit against the companies in 2020, alleging robocalls lured consumers into schemes for car warranties and health care plans. Bailey’s office stated the court ordered a monetary judgement of $244 million for the men, but the fine was suspended in favor of permanent operational bans because of their inability to pay.

“As Attorney General, I want to enforce the laws as written, which includes being a voice for Missouri consumers by holding scammers accountable,” Bailey said in a statement. “Our Consumer Protection unit works tirelessly to mediate complaints and go after fraudulent businesses or individuals who take advantage of Missouri citizens. Fighting scammers will continue to be a top priority of my office, as we seek to safeguard Missourians against fraud.”

The Consumer Protection Section in Bailey’s office receives complaints and attempts to mediate or resolve the issues. The section also has an enforcement unit with investigators, prosecutors and civil litigators. In addition to a complaint unit, there’s a general fraud unit, a no-call unit, a multi-state antitrust privacy unit and a nonprofit unit.

The office reported approximately $380 million was recovered for Missouri consumers.

The others ranked by industry, were:

3. Automotive (1,975) complaints from consumers regarding cars, automobile dealers and repair shops. Complaints often involved failure to deliver titles in a timely manner from the dealership, shoddy repair work and service issues.

4. Retail/wholesale (1,699) complaints involved purchases made through the internet, telephone and mail and involved late deliveries or products never delivered.

5. Financial (1,392) complaints involved debt collection companies, credit repair services and disputes with financial institutions.

6. Communications/technology/online service (1,302) included complaints related to telephone billing practices and other misleading promotions.

7. Solicitations/publications/subscriptions (1,117) included complaints regarding mail and phone solicitations and generally involve sweepstakes, lotteries and other solicitation scams.

8. Health (885) complaints included health industry issues, billing issues with hospitals and doctors, supplemental purchases and disputed health insurance payments.

9. Travel/timeshares (873) often involved timeshare exit companies, timeshare companies and travel clubs.

10. Professional services (829) included complaints about moving companies, towing, funeral homes and cemeteries and special events.

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