Property fraud complaints rise in U.S.

Americans are increasingly grumbling about real estate-related scams and problems, according to a report released today by the Consumer Federation of America, which found property-related issues to play a major part in five of the top 10 most common complaints. After automobile-related issues, credit and debt were the second most common consumer complaints, according to the report, which was comprised of complaints recorded in 2011 by 37 state and local agencies. Mortgage modifications and mortgage-related fraud are included in this category.

Home improvement and construction work were listed as the third most frequent source of fraud. Landlord-tenant disputes rose to the seventh most reported consumer problem, led by unsafe or unhealthy conditions and rent disputes. New to the list this year, and the ninth most common consumer complaint, was “real estate.” That category includes timeshare fraud, retirement community problems and outright real estate fraud. Finally, complaints relating to household furniture and appliances were listed as the 10th biggest issue.

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Bed bugs, mold and landlord-tenant disputes, fraudulent rentals of foreclosed proeprties, and timeshare sales were included in a separate list compiled by the federation of the 11 fastest-growing complaints. — Adam Fusfeld