File photo

File photo

Problems with telemarketers once again topped the list of consumer complaints in Wisconsin during 2015, although problems with identity theft also saw a dramatic increase.

The annual report from the Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection details the top ten complaint areas the agency handled during the past year. Telemarketers have held the number one spot for years, although Division of Trade and Consumer Protection Administrator Frank Frasetto says the nature of those complaints have been changing, with scam calls coming out ahead of no call list violations. “Those people who are legitimately making telemarketing calls understand the rules that govern the registry, and are abiding that for the most part,” he says. “The other calls that are coming in are from crooks and thieves, and they really don’t care.”

The scams take many different forms, such as callers posing as utilities to threaten a disconnection without immediate payment, a government agency demanding back taxes, or even tech support experts claiming your computer has a virus. The goals remain the same though – getting you to hand over cash or sensitive personal information that can lead to identity theft.

Other spots in the top ten include landlord-tenant issues at number two, identity theft at third, telecommunications problems at fourth, and home improvement contract disputes at fifth. Gas pump accuracy, vehicle sales, and problems with electronics rounded out the remaining categories.

Issues with identity theft moved up a spot on the list, due largely to an 80 percent jump in reported cases. Of those, 85 percent dealt directly with tax identity theft, where someone had falsely claimed a refund for another person. Frasetto says it’s a reminder for residents to take steps throughout the year to protect their identity. “Make sure you shred unnecessary documents that contain personal or financial information, and regularly monitor your credit report.”

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