Consumer debt and identity theft were the top two complaints on Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s top 10 list for 2015, while complaints regarding education comprised a new addition.
More than 1,500 education-related complaints were filed in 2015, and Madigan attributes them to rises in student loan debt and for-profit schools.
“These complaints reflect the very significant and troubling issues in our higher education field today … the rise of the predatory for-profit colleges as well as the large amount of loan debts,” Madigan said.
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Madigan announced that her office has filed a lawsuit against Lombard-based National Student Loan Rescue.
The suit alleges the company charged high upfront fees and charged hefty sums for services, including federal student loan consolidation, that are offered free of charge from the U.S Department of Education.
The Attorney General’s office received more than 25,000 consumer complaints in 2015 including complaints regarding telecommunications and home improvement scams, as well as frauds against business.
Steve Bernas of the Better Business Bureau said a majority of consumer complaints arise when customers are asked to pay money upfront.
“The tip-off to the rip-off is the advance fee,” Bernas said. “The advance fee gets consumers in trouble in so many instances when they pay money upfront and they don’t realize what they’re getting themselves into before services are performed.”
Bernas said consumers may monitor scams throughout the country through the Better Business Bureau’s online scam tracker, https://www.bbb.org/scamtracker/us/ . In the last year alone, 447 scams were reported in Illinois.