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Better Business Bureau releases list of top 10 industries for complaints

The Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota (BBB) has compiled its statistics for 2010 and is announcing the Top Ten industries for customer complaints and inquiries, as well as a record number of total instances of service to the public: 2,190,201.

The BBB handled roughly 24,500 complaints in 2010, resolving nearly 90% of them. "The number of complaints we received were actually slightly down last year," said Dana Badgerow, president and CEO of the BBB. "That certainly doesn't mean we were less busy - at all. On the contrary, what we're hoping is that decline was due to our efforts to remind consumers they should check out companies with us before making purchasing decisions."

Complaints against auto dealers topped our list last year. Complaints against contractors were also prevalent, as evidenced by the four categories in the construction field which made the list. The construction industry also topped the list of inquiries from the public in 2010. Collection agencies moved up that list from the year before, from #6 to #4. This could be a reflection of the uncertain economic conditions and consumers wanting to verify that companies contacting them in regard to debts are legitimate.

The Top Ten complaints on industries were:

1. Auto Dealers - New Cars

2. Auto Dealers - Used Cars

3. Siding Contractors

4. Auto Repair & Service

5. Contractors - General

6. Roofing Contractors

7. Construction & Remodeling Services

8. Banks

9. Window - Installation & Services

10. Television - Cable CATV & Satellite

The Top Ten inquiries on industries were:

1. Contractors - General

2. Roofing Contractors

3. Construction & Remodeling Services

4. Collection Agencies

5. Heating & Air Conditioning

6. Mortgage Brokers

7. Auto Dealers - Used

8. Auto Dealers - New

9. Plumbing Contractors

10. Internet Shopping

Predictions for 2011

The BBB has received thousands of calls about scams that affected consumers this past year. The unique role we play gives us insight into current trends and helps us to predict what to expect in the coming year. Based on our observations, here are some scams to be on the lookout for in the months ahead:

--Magazine Telephone Sales. Scams are on the rise in this industry and will likely continue to be a problem. If you receive a call from a magazine sales staff, be sure to ask them to send you the offer in writing before you make a commitment and provide your credit card number.

--ATM skimming. Skimming devices are getting more and more sophisticated and will continue to line crooks' pockets in 2011.

--Job scams. Since the unemployment rate continues to remain high, job seekers should be aware of fake job offers - especially ones where 'employers' tell you the offer is contingent upon payment of an upfront fee.

--Online shopping scams. Due to the fact it's relatively easy to create fake websites, consumers will likely continue to be victimized by offers that seem too good to be true.

--Fraudulent charities. With so many people in need due to natural disasters domestically and around the world, con artists will be vying for donations, preying on honest people who are looking to extend a hand to those in need.