DENVER (KDVR) — The Consumer Protection Section of the Colorado Department of Law saw a 28% increase in complaints in 2022 compared to the year before.
As National Consumer Protection Week kicks off, Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser highlighted the top complaints in his office from the year before, from retail sales scams to debt collection and health care.
“At the Department of Law, our responsibility is to protect Colorado consumers. National Consumer Protection Week is an opportunity to provide resources, education, and knowledge so that Coloradans can continue to navigate and avoid scams, while also warning scammers and other bad actors that we are working to halt them and hold them accountable,” Weiser said in a release.
Weiser’s office saw 17,941 complaints and questions about scams in 2022. Complaints and questions about retail sales led the way with 1,676, followed by questions and complaints about home service and repair and automotive sales and service.
A big change from the previous year was a significant drop in complaints surrounding unemployment scams. In 2021, these types of scams finished second overall with 995 total complaints. Unemployment scams did not scratch the top ten in reported complaints in 2022.
During a news conference Monday, Weiser pointed to a combination of factors that helped drive down these reports. The first was his office launching a task force, dedicated to this kind of fraud. The task force referred 17 criminal cases for prosecution in its first year.
Weiser also said his office worked with the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment to make them less vulnerable to fraud, along with the pandemic unemployment insurance availability phased out now gives people fewer opportunities to commit fraud.
“Our office has new authority now, to go after those who would defraud the government, more broadly,” Weiser said. “This was one specific fraud, unemployment insurance fraud. We passed a false claims act. You can be a whistleblower if you know about false, misleading or otherwise fraudulent activity as a government contractor, let us know about it. We can actually take action, get the money back, get penalties and the whistleblower can be rewarded.”
A majority of Colorado consumer complaints came from the Front Range region of the state, with most complaints coming from the Denver metro, Boulder and the Colorado Springs region.
Colorado consumers can report fraud to the attorney general’s office through Stop Fraud Colorado, or by calling (800) 222-4444. You can also report consumer-related issues or scams to the FOX31 Problem Solvers by emailing KDVRProblemSolvers@kdvr.com.