Imposters, identity theft made up ND's top consumer complaints in 2016
BISMARCK — Imposter scams and identity theft were the top consumer complaints in North Dakota in 2016, but those weren't the only problems residents reported during the year.
Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem announced on Friday, Dec. 30, the top 10 consumer complaints of the year, as well as some tips to not become a victim of a scam.
The most common complaint was an imposter scam, which includes someone pretending to be a grandparent, romance scams or claiming to represent the IRS or a sweepstakes. In 2016, 105 such scams were tallied by the state's Consumer Protection Division.
"It does not seem to matter how many times warnings are issued by this office and local law enforcement agencies," Stenehjem said in statement. "Unfortunately, people still respond to the scams and lose money."
Identity theft was the second-most common complaint with 101 reports, followed by 78 "do not call" violations, 73 contractor or home improvement complaints and 54 automotive complaints.
Complaints rounding out the top 10 included: mail order problems (33); retail (28); services (22); telephone, such as cramming or billing errors (18); and debt adjustment, debt settlement or credit counseling (10).
Scam artists often pose as people we want to trust, according to Parrell Grossman, director of the state's Consumer Protection division. That can include government or law enforcement officials, relatives and bank employees.
Stenehjem offered several tips to avoid becoming a victim of a scam, such as not giving out personal information or sending money in response to any unexpected contact. He also advised not trusting a phone's caller ID because available technology can create fake names or numbers to display as the caller or text message sender.
Stenehjem also said to never send or wire money or buy a prepaid cash card in response to a contact because that's "a sure sign" it's a scam.