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Welcome to IndianaConsumer.com, the state's one-stop resource for consumer information and education brought to you by the Indiana Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division.
Here you can find the answers to questions on the minds of many Hoosier consumers just like you. Information on current topics such as identity theft, schemes and scams in the marketplace, rising fuel prices, prescription medication and recalled products is just a click away.
Below are the top 5 consumer complaints filed with the Indiana Attorney General’s Office in 2015 and tips on how to avoid them:
1. Unwanted calls/phone scams
The Attorney General’s Office receives more complaints about unwanted calls than any other category. Callers offer a variety of services, and these calls are often scams. One of the most common unwanted call complaints is about the IRS impersonation scam. In the IRS impersonation scam, callers claim to be with the IRS and demand immediate payment of past-due taxes. Do not respond or make payments to any incoming caller. Always hang up and initiate the call yourself. Find the correct number by looking it up; do not rely on the number the caller gives you. Register for the Do Not Call list to block telemarketing calls and consider other call-blocking services.
2. New and used auto sales and service
Before purchasing a car, understand your rights and what to look out for by reviewing the AG’s Auto Buyer’s Bill of Rights. Make sure to research local dealers and check with the Indiana Attorney General’s Office or Better Business Bureau for complaints. Once you find a vehicle, have the car inspected by an independent mechanic. Take your time to read and understand the entire written purchase agreement before signing.
3. Home maintenance and construction
Door-to-door salesman offering home improvement services, especially after damaging storms, may pressure homeowners into making quick decisions. Do your research on the contractor and compare bids with other local and reputable companies. Indiana law requires home improvement contracts exceeding $150 to be in writing. Never pay for the entire project before the work begins and do not pay more than one third of the total cost as a down payment.
4. Online scams and sales
Research the business you plan to purchase from online and confirm their physical address and phone number in case you need to contact them. Consider using an online payment service, such as PayPal, or your credit card, which protects your transaction under the Fair Credit Billing Act. If you receive an unsolicited email, never respond to requests for personal or financial information and do not click on any links.
5. Identity Theft
Identity theft continues to grow, and the best protection against this crime is signing up for a free credit freeze to prevent criminals from opening up lines of credit in your name. Monitoring your financial statements closely and checking your credit report at least once a year at www.annualcreditreport.com can also help you detect errors, accounts you never opened, and/or bills sent to the wrong address - all signs that someone else is using and ruining your name and credit.