Financial Services, Utilities Top Colorado Consumer Complaints

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In honor of National Consumer Protection Week, Colorado Attorney General John Suthers has released the top consumer complaints in the state for 2011 and the first two months of 2012. Here are the details.

* In 2011, 7,927 complaints were filed with the Office of the Attorney General, a 12.9 percent increase over 2010's complaints and 54.5 percent more than 2009. Complaints about financial planning services and management consultants led the top 10, with 410 complaints filed in 2011.

* Utility complaints including those made against cable and satellite TV ranked second, with 349 complaints filed. In the top 10 lists of specific businesses, DirecTV ranked fourth (167) and Dish Network was sixth (107).

* Westminster-based Dalbey Education Institute, formerly known as American's Note Network, topped the list of most complained-about businesses in 2011. In May, the Attorney General's office, along with the Federal Trade Commission, obtained a court order barring Dalbey from airing misleading infomercials. The business is prevented from running note-brokering infomercials until a 2013 trial in which the U.S. District Court will consider a permanent injunction in which the business would be required to report the low success rate to consumers wishing to purchase its products.

* In 2011, there were 732 complaints against collection agencies, with the most common complaints including agencies attempting to collect debts not due and harassing consumers. By law, collection agencies cannot contact third parties, the attorney general stated. An agency also cannot misrepresent the legal status of the debt, cannot call consumers from 9 p.m. to 8 a.m. and must honor a consumer's written request to cease communication.

* In the first two months of 2012, 1,434 complaints had been received, with financial services and utilities still ranking at the top. Dalbey Education Institute had received 76 complaints, followed by DirecTV (21), Dish Network (16) and Comcast (15).

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