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Better Business Bureau lists top 10 complaints

The Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota (BBB) has compiled its statistics for 2009 and is announcing the "top 10" industries for customer complaints and inquiries.

The BBB handled more than 25,500 complaints in 2009, resolving nearly 92 percent of them.

"2009 is barely in our rear view mirror and we're working hard to analyze the data for trends," said Dana Badgerow, president and CEO of the BBB. "The statistics that emerge from the past year will allow us to identify the industries that most need our help in decreasing complaints and increasing consumer trust."

Despite the troubles the auto industry has experienced recently, complaints against auto dealers topped the list last year.

Complaints against contractors were also prevalent, as evidenced by the five categories in the construction field that made the list. The construction industry also topped the list of inquiries from the public the BBB received in 2009.

Work-at-home offers were seventh on that list, likely a result of an increase in offers of that nature and the continued high unemployment rate.

The top 10 complaints on industries were:

Auto Dealers-New Cars

Siding Contractors

Roofing Contractors

Auto Dealers-Used Cars

Construction and Remodeling Services

Auto Repair and Services




Television-Cable, CATV and Satellite

The top 10 inquiries on industries were:

Roofing Contractors


Construction and Remodeling Services

Electronic Equipment and Supplies-Dealers

Mortgages and/or Escrow Companies

Collection Agencies

Work-At-Home Companies

Heating and Air Conditioning

Internet Shopping Services

Auto Dealers-Used Cars

Predictions for 2010

Based on the BBB's observations, here are some scams to be on the lookout for in 2010:

Census scams. Scammers may use the census in an attempt to 'phish' and get personal information from consumers via e-mail. Census information will NOT be collected by e-mail. For more information about how the Census process will work, check

"Green" remodeling offers. When working with a contractor, homeowners should have a clear understanding of what makes a product green and the precise advantages and disadvantages of that item. Consumers should verify that the products offered are eligible for advertised rebates or tax incentives.

Job scams. Seeking to take advantage of high unemployment rates, scammers will try to rope people into fraudulent re-shipping schemes or offer jobs in exchange for an up-front payment. Be aware that re-shipping schemes are illegal and legitimate employment offers do not require any payment up-front.

Pre-acquired account marketing "offers." After making purchases online, customers receive pop-ups offering discounts that appear to come from the retailer. However, the pop-ups come from third-party companies and by clicking on these offers to save, customers unknowingly sign up for memberships, which result in monthly billings (usually far greater than the initial offer of savings) to their credit cards - even when they haven't directly provided their credit card numbers.

IRS-related scams. These tend to flare up as tax season approaches. The IRS reminds people that they do not discuss tax account matters with people by e-mail.

Wireless security breaches. Consumers need to be aware that unless they take precautions, their personal information can be compromised when they utilize public Wi-Fi connections.

Fake online classified ads or auction sales. Customers respond to online offers or auctions that are too good to be true, only to find out they don't get the promised product and their personal information (credit card number) has been compromised.

Gift card scams. This occurs when people buy gift cards from auction sites at reduced prices and then discover the cards are blank or nearly depleted of value. It's best to purchase a gift card directly from the merchant.

Smishing scams. Similar to phishing, smishing uses cell phone text messages to deliver the "bait" to get you to divulge your personal information. The "hook" (the method used to actually "capture" your information) in the text message may be a website URL. However, it has become more common to see a phone number that connects to an automated voice response system.

Contact the BBB at or 651-699-1111, toll-free at 1-800-646-6222.