Attorney General Mark Brnovich Reveals Top 5 Arizona Consumer Complaints

Arizona Consumer Protection Week February 28-March 6, 2021

PHOENIX - Attorney General Mark Brnovich is kicking off Arizona Consumer Protection Week (February 28 - March 6) by warning consumers about the top five consumer complaint categories that the Attorney General’s Office (AGO) received in 2020, as well as tips to avoid falling victim. General Brnovich is also reminding residents that the AGO consumer protection team is on standby to help Arizonans who’ve been ripped off by consumer fraud.

“While one week every year is devoted to Consumer Protection Week, our dedicated team is working diligently each and every day to protect Arizonans from scams and help victims of consumer fraud,” said Attorney General Brnovich. "We have recovered a record-breaking amount of restitution for Arizona consumers, and we're not done yet."

Since Brnovich became Attorney General in 2015, the AGO has secured more than $200 million in consumer restitution, debt and timeshare fee savings, and event ticket refunds. This amount far exceeds the restitution secured by the AGO from 2000-2014 combined.

Top 5 Types of Arizona Consumer Fraud Complaints:

  1. Motor Vehicle Sales, Repairs, and Rentals
  2. Telemarketing and Phone Scams
  3. Telecommunications (i.e. internet service providers, cell phones, TV, bundling)
  4. Mortgage and Real Estate
  5. Insurance Service Contract/Warranty (i.e. home warranties)

Tips to Avoid Top Consumer Scams and Deceptive Practices:

  1. Motor Vehicles: When purchasing a vehicle, make sure all promises made by the salesperson or business are in writing and that you get a copy of all paperwork. 
  2. Phone Scams: Never give money in response to an unsolicited phone call, and remember that legitimate government agencies will not threaten you or demand that you pay a debt or fee immediately. Never pay for services or fees with a gift card.  
  3. Telecommunications: Keep an eye on monthly bills for unauthorized fees and sudden or new charges. 
  4. Mortgage and Real Estate: Read all documents and understand all terms before signing. Do not sign contracts or agreements with blank spaces or in a language you do not understand.
  5. Home Warranties: Check the paperwork carefully to see what the contract offers versus what they are trying to sell you. Make sure you understand what the manufacturer’s warranty covers, when it expires, and whether you will be timely covered in an emergency.        

In 2020, the AGO’s Consumer Information and Complaints Unit processed nearly 15,000 written consumer complaints, answered nearly 40,000 phone calls, and reviewed over 22,000 emails. 

In the past year alone, the AGO has:

  • Secured over $100 million in consumer restitution and other consumer relief through settlements and lawsuits, including:
    • $24 million in restitution to APS customers;
    • $71 million in event refunds from Ticketmaster;
    • Tens of millions of dollars in debt relief from Santander sub prime auto lenders.
  • Recovered nearly $4.6 million directly for consumers by working together with consumers and entities to resolve complaints.
  • Obtained over $30 million in civil penalties and costs from matters related to consumer protection.
  • Established a COVID-19 consumer webpage to provide information about the latest scams and resources.
  • Partnered with more than 1,000 grocery stores, convenience stores, and pharmacies statewide to spread awareness about gift card scams (CVS Pharmacy and Arizona Food Marketing Alliance).   

If you believe you have been the victim of consumer fraud, you can file a consumer complaint by visiting the Attorney General’s website. If you need a complaint form sent to you, you can contact the Attorney General’s Office in Phoenix at (602) 542-5763 in Tucson at (520) 628-6648, or outside the Phoenix and Tucson metro areas at (800) 352-8431. 

Division Background
Civil Litigation Division Chief Joe Sciarrotta oversees and often works closely with the Consumer Protection and Advocacy Section (CPA), which is one of four distinct sections comprising the Civil Litigation Division. CPA is managed and led by Section Chief Leslie Cooper. The CPA Section includes the Civil Litigation Unit (CLU), run by Unit Chief Matthew du Mee; the Competition, Innovation & Privacy Unit (CIPU) run by Unit Chief Dana Vogel; the Tobacco Enforcement Unit (TEU) run by Doug Lau; and the Consumer Information & Complaints Unit (CIC), run by CIC Manager Tammy Miller. The Section is assisted by the Special Investigations Section (SIS) team of consumer fraud investigators.   

National Consumer Protection Week
NCPW is an opportunity for government agencies, consumer protection groups, and the public to work together to help others understand their consumer rights and make well-informed decisions about money.