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Illegal robocalls top list of ND consumer complaints last year

North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem. Forum News Service file photo

BISMARCK -- One in four North Dakota consumer complaints in 2017 was about an illegal robocall, said Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem who oversees his office’s consumer protection division.

“Based on comments I hear daily from North Dakotans, and my own experience, it’s easy to see why these robocalls are the top complaint,” Stenehjem said.”The calls are annoying and most often are nothing but scams that have cost consumers money. Plus, they are illegal in North Dakota,

Stenehjem said he has no doubt that the number of complaints filed represents only a small fraction of citizens who find robocalls out of control. For example, he said the Federal Trade Commission reported receiving 375,000 complaints a month in 2017.

In all, the state’s consumer protection division received 1,125 consumer complaints  last year.

The top five complaint categories were robocalls, 279; imposter scams, 119; contractor/home improvement problems, 88; debt adjustment or credit counseling calls, 75; and identity theft, 53.

The remaining consumer complaints covered more than two dozen categories from advertising to warranties.

Last year, Stenehjem joined a bipartisan group of Attorneys General to urge the FCC to adopt new rules to help address the robocall and spoofing problem. Spoofing occurs when a caller falsifies the information transmitted to a caller ID display in order to hide their identity. The FCC responded with rules that allow telephone providers to block calls that come from invalid numbers and numbers that have not been assigned to anyone. He urged North Dakotans to press their telephone service providers to offer robocall-blocking technology.

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