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Here Are the Top Consumer Complaints of 2013

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- The Consumer Federation of America and North American Consumer Protection Investigators are out with a list of top consumer complaints for 2013, and phony phone calls from telemarketers and potential identity thieves are the fastest-growing pet peeves.

"Despite the national do-not-call registry, strict rules concerning robocalls and other protections, unwanted and fraudulent phone calls are still plaguing American consumers," says Susan Grant, director of consumer protection at CFA.

But the list is way longer than that, and technology seems to be as much an enemy as a friend to millions of consumers.

"Internet phone service, Caller ID spoofing software, prepaid cellphones that scammers buy anonymously and discard, auto-dialers and other technology make it easy and inexpensive for crooks to contact U.S. consumers from anywhere in the world," says Amber Capoun, president of the NACPI.

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The survey data don't come directly from consumers, but from a vast nationwide network of consumer protection agencies that reported back on the most common U.S. consumer complaints. Here's a partial list:

Auto misfires: Americans are coming down hard on the auto industry, pretty much across the board. "Misrepresentations in advertising or sales of new and used cars, lemons, faulty repairs, leasing and towing disputes" was a top-rated complaint for last year.

Lousy home improvement/construction work: "Shoddy work, failure to start or complete the job" was also a hot-button issue. With the economy coming back, more Americans are having work done on their homes and businesses -- but aren't all that happy with the results they're getting.

Credit-related issues: The study says consumers are sick and tired of overbilling and fee disputes, mortgage modifications and mortgage-related fraud, credit repair, debt relief services, predatory lending, illegal or abusive debt collection tactics.

Recoiling from retail outlets: Consumers don't like being lied to, so false advertising and other deceptive practices, along with defective merchandise and problems with rebates, coupons, gift cards and gift certificates are common complaints from consumers.

Problems with basic household bills: "Service problems or billing disputes with phone, cable, satellite, Internet, electric and gas service" were near the top of the heap for common complaints among survey participants.

Landlord issues: Rental consumers also have a beef with their landlords, as "unhealthy or unsafe conditions, failure to make repairs or provide promised amenities, deposit and rent disputes, illegal eviction tactics" popped up as a major issue in 2013.

Fraud complaints: Americans are also apparently growing weary of phony sweepstakes and lotteries, work-at-home schemes, grant offers, fake check scams, impostor scams and other common frauds, the study reports.

Among the fastest-growing consumer complaints are "violations of do-not-call rights and other telemarketing abuses" and "used car sales," the CFA and NACPI report. Utility billing issues and home improvement complaints also make the list.

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