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Idaho AG Issues Annual Report

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By Paul Johnson

Boise, Idaho ( KMVT-TV / KSVT-TV ) – Attorney General Lawrence Wasden says a series of victories in antitrust cases and the recovery of more than $1.9 million in restitution for Idahoans are among the top achievements of the Consumer Protection Division in fiscal year 2014.
Wasden issued his annual Consumer Protection report for 2014 Wednesday in Boise. The report provides a comprehensive look at the lawsuits, complaints and fraud risks facing Idaho consumers of all ages.

“I think the central theme of this year’s report is the work that was done to protect Idaho consumers and to maintain and promote competitive fairness in the marketplace,” Attorney General Wasden said.

Three significant antitrust cases were resolved during fiscal year 2014. In January, a federal judge ruled the acquisition of Saltzer Medical Group by St. Luke’s Health System violated the Idaho Competition Act and federal antitrust laws. The Attorney General’s Office is now defending the decision on appeal in the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Idaho joined other states to settle antitrust lawsuits against E-book publishers accused of conspiring to drive up prices and makers of Dynamic Random Access Memory chips, or DRAM. Both settlements brought reimbursements to consumers harmed by paying higher prices for goods.

In fiscal year 2014, the Consumer Protection Division recovered $1.96 million in consumer restitution, according to the report, which is available on the Attorney General’s website.
Wasden also said the office received more than $27.4 million under the Master Settlement Agreement reached in 1998 with major tobacco companies, bringing the total payment made to Idaho under the agreement to more than $382 million.

The Consumer Protection Division also responded to and handled 829 complaints and logged 9,678 contacts from consumers. In fiscal 2014, complaints related to motor vehicles topped the list, with 109 during the 12-month period. Loans and mortgage lenders and landlord/tenant issues rounded out the top three complaint categories.

“What I found interesting in the numbers this year is the overall decline in consumer complaints,” Wasden said. “We don’t have a precise answer to explain the drop-off. Consumer complaints to some degree can be cyclical in nature.”

Overall, consumer complaints handled by the office declined 19 percent from 2013. Wasden also said the 2014 report represents activity during the fiscal year, unlike previous annual reports that were pegged to the calendar year, a transition that makes it difficult to make direct year-by-year comparisons.

Here is the Attorney General’s Top 10 Complaint list for fiscal year 2014:

TOP 10 COMPLAINT CATEGORIES
CATEGORY 2013 FY 2014
1 MOTOR VEHICLES 105 109
2 LOANS & MORTGAGE LENDERS 97 64
3 LANDLORD/TENANT ISSUES 66 47
4 CONSTRUCTION & CONTRACTORS 51 32
5 COLLECTION ACTIVITIES & ISSUES 46 31
6 CABLE & SATELLITE TV ISSUES 41 30
7 HEALTH CARE: DENTAL/OPTICAL/MEDICAL 31 29
8 CELLULAR SERVICES & SALES 30 25
9 MEMBERSHIP CLUBS & PLANS 28 24
10 INTERNET SERVICE PROVIDERS 25 23

ALL OTHER COMPLAINTS 479 415
TOTAL COMPLAINTS RECEIVED 1024 829


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