Feelin’ ripped off?  You’re not alone! Attorney General Mark Brnovich kicked off National Consumer Protection week with the top five fraud complaints from consumers in Arizona. 

The Top 5 Consumer Fraud Complaints:
1.            Used Motor Vehicle Sales
2.            Telemarketing and Business Opportunity Fraud
3.            Mortgages and Loan Modifications
4.            Collection Services
5.            Motor Vehicle Repairs

Typically, most would think shady mechanics make the top of the heap for fraudulent practices, but this year, the “sales slime scum” honor goes to the used car dealer.

Brnovich offers up tips on how to avoid being taken in, whether it’s buying a car or getting one fixed.
  • When buying a car, first know the value of the vehicle before you negotiate the purchase price.  Check out the National Automobile Dealers Association’s (NADA) Guides, Edmunds, and Kelley Blue Book that will give you the best estimate.
  • Hang up the phone!  Telemarketers are pushy and want to pressure you into buying something. Don’t do it.  One way to avoid being scammed on the phone is to ask for the information to be sent to you in writing before you agree to buy anything.  AND NEVER give your credit card, checking account, social security number or other personal identifying information to unknown callers.
  • Everyone is trying to refinance their mortgage or make loan modifications.  Brnovich says you don’t need to pay anyone up-front fees for a mortgage modification.  There are free and legitimate services available.  Avoid anyone who tells you to stop paying your mortgage payment or to pay them instead.
  • Collection Services can suck your bank account dry.  When dealing with Debt collectors, know that they can’t contact you before 8:00 am or after 9:00 pm.  They can’t harass you, lie, or use unfair practices when they try to collect a debt. Debt collectors must honor a written request from you to stop further contact.  You have the right to ask that the debt collector provide proof to you of the debt in writing. 
  • Anyone know an honest mechanic?   They are out there, you just have to be patient. Ask for car repair recommendations from people you trust.  Check with the Better Business Bureau to see if there are any complaints against the repair shop.  Get a written, signed estimate before any work is done.  The estimate should identify the problem to be repaired, the parts needed and the anticipated labor charge.

Consumers can file a consumer complaint by visiting www.azag.gov or by calling (602) 542-5763 (Phoenix), (520) 628-6504 (Tucson), or toll free outside metro Phoenix, (800) 352-8431.

Kris Dugan