AG Madigan announces Top 10 Illinois consumer complaints, increase in student loan debt scams

Kevin HoffmanReboot Illinois

Mar 06, 2017

An annual report released by Attorney General Lisa Madigan Monday shows her office received fewer complaints from Illinois consumers about scams in 2016, but that education-related fraud is becoming more common as student loan debt balloons.

Madigan’s office received nearly 23,735 consumer complaints in 2016, down about 1,360 from the previous year. Consumer debt related complaints involving mortgages, banks and collection agencies remained the most common threat facing Illinois consumers for the ninth straight year with 2,783 complaints.

Not far behind was identity theft, which has held the No. 2 spot for number of complaints since 2008. The attorney general’s office recorded nearly 2,400 complaints, such as data breaches, utility scams and credit card and government document fraud.

In last year’s report, education-related complaints made its way on the list for the first time and now ranks as the sixth most common type of complaint as fraudsters try to take advantage of the growing student loan debt crisis. Nearly 1,700 such complaints were reported to Madigan’s office in 2016, up 11 percent over the year.

“My office continues to see an increase in education complaints, including loan servicers that don’t provide accurate assistance and for-profit schools that provide worthless degrees,” Madigan said in a statement. “I remain committed to seeking relief for students and holding schools and loan servicers that commit fraud accountable.”

Lisa Madigan filed a lawsuit in January against Navient and Sallie Mae over alleged mistreatment of student loan borrowers. She also was the first attorney general in the country to go after student loan debt relief scams and currently is working to reform student loan services in Illinois, according to her office.

The attorney general’s Consumer Fraud Bureau returned more than $48 million to Illinois consumers last year through litigation and mediation.

Here are the 10 most common consumer complaints facing Illinoisans, according to the attorney general’s 2016 report.

10. New Auto Sales/Motor Vehicles (financing, defects, advertising) — 668 

9. Motor Vehicle/Non-Warranty Repair (collision, engines, oil changes and tune-ups) — 677

8. Internet/Mail Order Products (Internet and catalog purchases, TV and radio advertising) — 955

7. Used Auto Sales/Motor Vehicles (as-is used cars, financing, warranties) — 1,648 

6. Education (for-profit schools, student loan debt, loan counseling) — 1,691 

5. Telecommunications (telemarketing, cable and satellite TV, phone service and repairs, cell phones) — 1,851 

4. Construction/Home Improvement (remodeling, roofs and gutters, heating and cooling, plumbing) — 2,094

3. Promotions/Schemes (phone scams, investment schemes, lottery scams, phishing) — 2,387

2.  Identity Theft (government document fraud, credit cards, utilities, data breaches) — 2,391

1. Consumer Debt (mortgages, collection agencies, banks) — 2,783 

More from the attorney general’s office:

Consumer Fraud Hotlines:
1-800-386-5438 (Chicago), 1-800-243-0618 (Springfield) or 1-800-243-0607 (Carbondale)
Spanish Language Hotline: 1-866-310-8398
Student Loan Helpline:         1-800-455-2456
Identity Theft Hotline:          1-866-999-5630
Homeowner Helpline:           1-866-544-7151
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