James: New Yorkers filed thousands of complaints about scams, fraud
New Yorkers filed tens of thousands of complaints last year about scams, fraud and mistreatment, state Attorney General Letitia James said Monday.
Her office released a catalog of gripes over the perfidy, including evergreens like price gouging and defective merchandise but also grifts fine-tuned for the pandemic.
"From inaccurate turnaround times for COVID-19 test results to deceitful debt collectors, scammers took advantage of these difficult times to mislead and deceive New Yorkers," James said in the release, which divided complaints her office received into 10 categories.
Atop the list: 8,346 Internet-related complaints dealing with services and service providers, data privacy and security, digital media, data breaches and frauds through Internet manipulation.
Landlord-tenant disputes were second, with 3,144 complaints. That category includes wrongful withholding of security deposits and tenant harassment.
Retail sales, services, automobile, credit, utilities and home repair followed. Rounding out the list were health club and furniture complaints.
New Yorkers made 778 gym complaints including inability to cancel memberships or access facilities and gyms that didn’t provide refunds. They made 611 complaints about furniture and appliances including defective merchandise, delivery problems, and service and repair issues.
Most of those top categories had also appeared on a release James' office put out for 2020 complaints. But that year's list more directly reflected the pandemic, with COVID-related price gouging the second-most-common category of complaint after Internet issues.
COVID-related complaints about inability to cancel travel or lack of refunds for cancellations required by travel restrictions appeared on that list, but not on the 2021 list.
Neither release said how many of the complaints led to prosecutions or convictions, and a spokeswoman for James did not provide that information.
New Yorkers can protect themselves against some Internet scams by using different passwords for different accounts, enabling two-factor authentication when it is offered, never reusing passwords and checking online accounts periodically for unauthorized transactions, the release said.
For possible COVID-19 scams: consumers who see "unconscionably excessive prices" for home testing kits should call James' office. Free tests are also available from the federal government at www.covidtests.gov. Consumers who believe testing facilities are making misleading statements about how long it will take to get test results should report the facility to the attorney general's office, the release said.