For Immediate Release
Media Contact: Bob Cooper
(208) 334-4112

Date: February 4, 2005

Wasden Reports Record Consumer Recoveries

(Boise) - The Idaho Attorney General's Office recovered a record $5,777,643 for Idaho consumers in 2004, Attorney General Lawrence Wasden said today. Wasden released his office's annual report on consumer protection during a news conference in Boise. The Attorney General said the office's consumer protection enforcement efforts also collected $528,318 in civil penalties, fines and fees.

"The restitution recovered and distributed to Idaho residents and businesses equates to $10.30 for each taxpayer dollar appropriated for consumer protection staff," Attorney General Wasden said. "Additionally, money from civil penalties, fees and reimbursed costs is deposited into the consumer protection account and, pursuant to appropriation by the legislature, used to fund consumer education. This year we transferred nearly three quarters of a million dollars in surplus funds from the consumer protection account to the state's general fund."

Wasden also released the annual Attorney General's Top Ten List of Consumer Complaints for 2004. The office handled 4,078 complaints last year, the highest number since 1998.

"The top ten list gives us an indication of what is on the minds of Idaho consumers," Wasden said. " What seems most to be on their minds this year is faxes, unsolicited faxes containing ads, to be more specific."

The telecommunications category moved to the number one position, with 2,726 complaints, Wasden said. This category accounted for two-thirds of the complaints received by the Attorney General's Office. Although this category includes all complaints about telephone service, such as billing issues, cramming and slamming, Wasden said the majority of telecommunications complaints in 2004 related to fax advertising.

"I hope that this will get better with Fax.com barred from sending faxes into Idaho, but only time will tell," Wasden said, referring to a settlement this year prohibiting the nation's largest fax-spammer from operating in Idaho. "In the meantime, we will continue to enforce the law as best we can, and I encourage Idaho consumers, including businesses, to file complaints with us regarding unsolicited fax advertisements. As a side note, I want to remind everyone that simply sending an unsolicited ad by fax is a violation of state law. There is nothing in the law that permits sending these faxes until the consumer tells you to stop."

The telephone solicitations category contains complaints about telemarketers, including violations of the No Call Law. Telephone solicitation complaints plummeted 48% in 2004, moving this category to number two on the list. This is the third straight year that complaints about telemarketers have fallen.

"I attribute this to a combination of our enforcement efforts with regard to the No Call Law and to improved compliance by telemarketers," Wasden said. "It is worth noting that there are now more than 360,000 Idaho telephone numbers registered on the Attorney General's No Call List."

The Top Ten Complaint categories for 2004 are:

Category Complaints
  1. Telecommunications
  2. Telephone Solicitations
  3. Motor vehicles
  4. The Internet
  5. Mail order sales
  6. Credit cards
  7. Electronic equip or service
  8. Construction
  9. Retail store sales and service
  10. Finance and lending

2,726
326
229
111
92
69
66
58
57
50

View the complete Consumer Protection Annual report for 2004.

- End -

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