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CBS 17: NC attorney general’s report says robocalls dominate consumer complaints

Posted: Feb 19, 2021 / 02:33 PM EST Updated: Feb 19, 2021 / 07:44 PM EST

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – For many consumers, the court of last resort turns out to be the North Carolina Attorney General’s Office.

And last year, Attorney General Josh Stein’s office received more than 31,000 complaints.

Of the top 10 complaints, one issue dominated and that was the robocall.

The attorney general’s annual report says about one-third of all complaints involved robocalls.

“Those calls aren’t just annoying, they often lead to fraud,” said Attorney General Josh Stein. “They prey on the vulnerable and steal hundreds of millions of dollars every year.”

Phone companies are required to use a new technology nicknamed “Shaken & Stir” that puts a digital fingerprint on a robocall to prevent spam calls, but they have till June 30 to fully implement it.

CBS 17 wanted to know if the phone companies moving fast enough to satisfy Stein and other attorneys general who were involved in an agreement to get phone companies to use the technology to stop robocalls.

“In order for that technology to work, the entire industry has to be participating,” said Stein. “Some of the smaller players aren’t as far along as the bigger players.”

When COVID-19 hit, problems resulting from it created large numbers of complaints in a number of areas last year.

“If you look at our top 10, No. 2 was price gouging, No. 3 was utilities, No. 4 was credit and No. 6 was landlord-tenant,” said Stein. “A lot of that had to do with the pandemic.”

Stein said many of those issues were resolved by mediation between the attorney general’s office and the victims after they filed complaints.

Stein says his office won back close to $1 million for consumers through its complaint mediation process.

Different kinds of complaints require different kinds of documentation.

“It depends on the nature of the complaint in terms of the information we need,” said Stein. “Fill out the complaint form and if you don’t have everything we need our specialists will follow up with you.”

You also need to know, there are a number of different complaint forms for:

In 2020, the Stein’s office filed 11 consumer protection lawsuits as a result of consumer complaints.

He said judgments and settlements resulted nearly $65 million in restitution and recoveries last year.

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