Letitia James unveils New York’s Top 10 Consumer complaints from 2022
Attorney General Letitia James recognized National Consumer Protection Week on Tuesday by releasing a list of the top 10 consumer complaints received by the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) in 2022.
The top complaints range from price gouging of infant formula and children’s medication, flight cancellations, and the dramatic increase in gasoline prices. James also offered tips on how consumers can avoid common scams.
“My office receives thousands of consumer complaints every year, and we take each one seriously to stop fraudsters from hurting New Yorkers,” James said. “From predatory debt collection to price gouging, scammers tried to take advantage of consumers for personal gain, and we took appropriate action to stop it. As always, I urge New Yorkers to stay vigilant and to keep my office informed about potential scams, price gouging, or violations of consumer protection laws.”
The OAG received a total of 23,276 consumer complaints in 2022, with the top complaint being price gouging of infant formula and children’s medication. During the pandemic, consumers faced shortages of essential goods, and some unscrupulous retailers took advantage of this situation by charging exorbitant prices.
Another major complaint was flight cancellations after many consumers were left stranded due to airlines canceling flights due to staff shortages or other operational issues. Under federal law, consumers are entitled to a full cash refund if their flight is canceled, regardless of the reason. James urged the U.S Department of Transportation to take action to address cancellations and delays, including preventing airlines from selling tickets for flights they cannot provide.
Gasoline prices also saw a significant increase in 2022, with consumers feeling the pinch at the pump. Consumers should not be surprised by a credit card surcharge when paying for gas at the pump with a credit card, James said. Merchants are not allowed to advertise a price and add a surcharge at the point of sale when paying for goods or services with a credit card. Instead, merchants are required to inform consumers of the higher credit card price for a product or service by posting the higher price. Merchants can also offer discounts to consumers who pay with cash.
James offers various tips to protect New Yorkers from future scams in various industries. For retail sales, consumers should be aware of scammers that set up fake websites with product images of well-known brands or hard-to-get products. Before you order from an unfamiliar website, research the company and any online reviews; check for spelling errors on the website or anything that might seem off. If you don’t do a lot of online shopping, ask a friend or relative who does whether the site looks legitimate. Pay only by credit card and not Venmo, Zelle, or money transfer. And if a deal is too good to be true, it probably is.
For landlord-tenant disputes, James reminds New Yorkers that their landlord must return their security deposit within 14 days of moving out. If the landlord takes any money out of the security deposit for damages, they must provide an itemized receipt describing the damage and its cost. If the landlord fails to comply, you may be entitled to up to twice the amount of the security deposit.
James also urges consumers to be cautious of investment opportunities that come through social media, email, text messages, and other online methods. Sometimes these people are not who they say they are, live outside the United States, and may take your money without any way for you to get it back. An investment that “sounds too good to be true” or that promises guaranteed returns or high profits with little risk is probably a scam.
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