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Georgia’s Top Consumer Complaints In 2017 And How To Avoid Common Scams

A tip offered to consumers: Pay off the loan on your current vehicle before buying another one. However, if you must trade in your vehicle for another one, get the dealership’s promise to pay off the loan in writing and follow up.
A tip offered to consumers: Pay off the loan on your current vehicle before buying another one. However, if you must trade in your vehicle for another one, get the dealership’s promise to pay off the loan in writing and follow up.
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In 2017, Georgians filed consumer complaints about a number of issues. The top category was used car sales.

In a press release, state Attorney General Chris Carr announced the top complaints that were reported to his Consumer Protection Unit in 2017.

That list includes:

  • Used car sales
  • Debt issues
  • Automotive repairs
  • Home improvement/repairs
  • Landlord/tenant
  • Health-related services/billing
  • Insurance companies
  • Utilities

Georgia was also one of 23 states that participated in a survey by the Consumer Federation of America, which asked 40 state and local agencies about their most common, fastest-growing and worst consumer complaints.

The CFA’s report — released earlier this week — listed auto (sales, repairs, leasing and towing) as the top category of complaints nationwide.

Here are some tips on how to avoid a few of the most common and fastest-growing scams, according to the CFA’s report.

Auto Sales

Last year, Carr sued The Momentum Group Inc., which had two car dealerships known as Gwinnett Mitsubishi and Gwinnett Suzuki, alleging unlawful and deceptive sale and advertising practices.

One of the complaints alleged that the dealerships had failed to pay off loans for trade-in vehicles in a timely manner, and this left the car buyers responsible for the loan payments of both their newly purchased vehicle and the one they had traded in.

Both dealerships in the lawsuit are currently listed as closed on Yelp.com.

To avoid this, the CFA advises that you completely pay off the loans on your current vehicle before you purchase another. But, if you must buy a new car, be sure to get the dealership’s promise to pay off the loan in writing and confirm that it has been kept by following up with the lien holder within 30 days of signing the contract.

Credit/Debt Issues

Last year, a title pawn reached a $225,000 settlement with the state of Georgia after it was accused of violating the Georgia Fair Business Practices Act and the laws that regulate Georgia’s title pawns.

The title pawn allegedly threatened customers with arrest warrants and allegedly violated state law by failing to prominently use the terms “pawn” or “pawn transaction” in advertising and, in addition, by using the word “loan” in advertisements, according to a press release.

In its 2017 report, the CFA discourages consumers from engaging in pawn transactions, adding that if you couldn’t repay the title pawn, you would risk losing the money you invested as well as your means of transportation.

Internet Sales

“Internet Sales” was listed as one of the fastest-growing complaints in the CFA’s report.

Last year, the Georgia Department of Law’s Consumer Protection Unit filed a lawsuit against a company that was offering recreational activities — like hot air balloon rides and skydiving — sold online.

The company allegedly sold recreational activities to consumers on multiple websites but never provided the activities, according to the CFA’s report. Instead, it allegedly booked the events through third-party vendors and often failed to properly make the reservation.

When purchasing tickets or reservations to recreational activities online, the CFA says to do your research. Carefully review the terms and conditions, read past reviews about the booking company and see if you can confirm your reservation with the vendor directly.

 

Clarification: This report has been updated to clarify that the amount of time that the CFA advises you should follow up with the lien holder

Correction: This report has been updated to correct the details about the Georgia Department of Law Consumer Unit’s internet sales lawsuit and the tile pawn’s settlement with the state of Georgia.