CONSUMER TOP 10: Telemarketing complaints up 17 percent

MADISON, Wis. (WBAY) - More and more Wisconsin residents are voicing frustrations with telemarketers.

Telemarketing once again topped the state's list of consumer complaints.

The Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection says the agency received 4,860 telemarketing complaints in 2018. That's a 17 percent increase from 2017.

More than 2 of every 5 consumer complaints were about unknown numbers, unwanted sales or scams.

“Until a fix is identified, many Wisconsin consumers report having some success in minimizing the disruption of robocalls by using call-blocking apps for their mobile phones and letting unknown calls ring through to voicemail,” said Lara Sutherlin, administrator for the Department of Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP).

CLICK HERE to file a consumer complaint.

You can also file a complaint by calling the DATCP toll-free, 1-800-422-7128, or email

Wisconsin Consumer Protection's Jerad Albracht joined us for Action 2 News This Morning. He talked about why it's important to report telemarketer complaints to his agency.

"That information gets fed up to the Federal Trade Commission. They use those for the black list that goes to support Nomorobos [call blocker app], the Hiyas [caller ID app], so the information we're getting is going toward blocking these calls in the end," Albracht says.



Albracht says the state's Do Not Call List does not block scammers.

"The Do Not Call List does an excellent job of stopping legitimate telemarketers from calling you. They, legitimate telemarketers, pay to get the registered list. They know who they're supposed to call and they take that seriously. It's everyone else that's the problem," Albracht says.

"Computer dialed robocalls, many of which come from overseas, unscrupulous sales folks, these are problem calls. It's like asking why does somebody rob the bank when they know they're not supposed to rob the bank? Well, there's money to be had there. Someone somewhere is giving money to scammers. That keeps them calling."

Also seeing an increase in complaints in 2018 was Medical Services. Complaints were up 30 percent from 2017.

These complaints including billing disputes, misrepresentations and unauthorized charges.

“When you have transactions that involve hospitals, specialty clinics, independent providers and more, the paperwork can become complex quickly,” said Sutherlin. “Medical bills and terminology are puzzling for many consumers, and we are increasingly hearing from Wisconsin residents who are seeking help with having their voices heard in these transactions.”

Here's the TOP 10 LIST of consumer complaints for 2018:
RANK ... COMPLAINT ... 2018 ... 2017

1. Telemarketing ... 4,860 ... 4,147
See above

2. Landlord/Tenant ... 1,188 ...1,141
Security deposit-related issues, evictions and unauthorized entry

3. Telecommunications ... 681 ...763
Billing disputes, misleading representations, unauthorized charges and performance issues

4. Home Improvement ... 489 ... 403
Contractors failed to provide the services promised under a contract, charged for services or repairs that were not performed, failed to honor warranties or provided unsatisfactory workmanship

5. Medical Services ... 255 .... 195
See above

6. Identity Theft ... 250 ... 453
Fraud, tax identity theft, misuse of Social Security numbers and unauthorized account access

7. Motor Vehicle Repair ... 196 ... 182
Unauthorized charges, workmanship, and failures to provide services or honor warranties

8. Gas Pumps ... 169 ... 232
Gas pump accuracy and credit card skimmers in gas pumps

9. Motor Vehicle Sales ... 155 ... 149
Inadequate disclosures and misrepresentations

10. Fuel Quality ... 119 ... 113
Concerns about the quality of fuel at retail stations

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