By Jim Donovan

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The tough economy continues to pose problems for consumers. An annual round-up of the nation’s top consumer complaints found that many are the same gripes we’ve seen in the past. But a new one is also on the rise and 3-On Your Side Consumer Reporter Jim Donovan finds it’s related to something you might use every day.

Every year, the Consumer Federation of America surveys state and local agencies for the areas with the most consumer complaints. Over a quarter of a million complaints were looked at that had been filed with 31 agencies in 18 states. Their latest survey found most complaints, rip-offs and scams, had a common thread.

Susan Grant with the Consumer Federation of America says, “In the examples that they provided of the top, worst, and fastest-growing complaints, many of them were related to the tough financial situations that consumers and businesses faced last year.”

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Here following are the top ten complaint categories:

1. Auto
2. Credit/Debt
3. Home Improvement/Retail Sales (tied)
4. Utilities (phone, cable, gas, electric)
5. Services (contractors)
6. Internet Sales
7. Household Goods
8. Landlord/Tenant
9. Sweepstakes/Work-at-Home Fraud
10. Home/Phone Solicitations

In addition to those complaint categories, a new type of complaint was noticed by agencies. Gripes are on the rise related to daily deals on group buying sites. Customers complained about things like inadequate disclosures on expiration dates or other limitations.

The Consumer Federation says there are ways to protect yourself. They include: checking the track record of a company before you buy, only hire licensed professionals, don’t pay in full upfront, and when you can, pay with a credit card so you can dispute the charges if you end up with a problem.

Reported by Jim Donovan, CBS 3

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