The number of Missouri consumer protection complaints are steadily increasing and are a top priority for the new Governor and Attorney General
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The number of Missouri consumer protection complaints are steadily increasing and are a top priority for the new Governor and Attorney General

Date: December 10, 2008
By: Laura Nichols
State Capitol Bureau

Intro: With the economy in recession consumer protection issues are a growing concern for Missourians this upcoming year.

Laura Nichols has more from Jefferson City.

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The Missouri Attorney General's office reported that so far this year there are around 105 thousand complaints and inquiries concerning consumer protection issues. That number is over five thousand more than last year. The top complaint for the past two years involves businesses offering unsecured loans and collecting fees from consumers without a license. Scott Thomas works for the Better Business Bureau of Eastern Missouri and Southern Illinois. Thomas said they received 24 thousand complaints last year. He also said that number will probably rise in 2008.
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Description: "There's no doubt that with the economy the way it is it's going to open the gates up to those folks trying to take advantage of consumers especially in the areas of loans."
 
Meanwhile, another large consumer complaint concerns political robo-calls which became more frequent during election time.
 
In the time since Governor-Elect Jay Nixon pushed the passing of the Missouri No Call Law in 2001 some Missouri legislators have filed a new bill that will add political robo-calls to the list. 
 
Representative Ed Wildberger sponsored the bill last year and said many constituents complained about the issue.
 
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Description: "Robo-calling especially during political election season people getting call after call after call, and they just don't like being bothered.  They feel they have a right to privacy in their home."
 
Wildberger said outgoing House Speaker Rod Jetton is responsible for the bill not even being discussed in the House when it passed in the Senate.
 
Jetton said he did not try to block the bill but thinks there are more important consumer protection issues facing Missourians.
 
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Description: "Those kind of consumer protection issues like identity theft or even some of the little fraudulent things were they take these older people especially for all their money and clean out their bank accounts.  I would say I would much rather see us spend our time trying to create penalties and ways to stop them."  
 
Jetton said identity theft became a main concern for him after a fellow Representative Steve Hobbs had his identity stolen a little over a year ago.
 
Representative Hobbs said he grew suspicious when he started receiving bills addressed to Steven Hobbs with a different middle name.
 
He then notified his bank and the Attorney General's office.
 
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Description: "It is a very traumatic experience and you know I was fortunate.  We caught it rather quickly and it hasn't cost us out of pocket money but it has been devastating to some other people."

Hobbs said Missourians need to take extra precautions to not give out personal information and should report it immediately to the Attorney General's Office if they experience identity theft.
 
Reporting from the Capitol, I'm Laura Nichols.


Intro: Those annoying political robo-calls would be banned under bills recently pre-filed in the House and Senate.

Laura Nichols has more from Jefferson City

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Members of both the Missouri House and Senate recently pre-filed a bill that will extend the "do not call" list to include political robo-calls sent from political candidates through automated machines, text messages, faxes, and cell phones. Senator Scott Rupp from St. Charles County is the sponsor of the bill in the Senate and said this is the third time he has filed this bill. Last year it passed in the Senate, but was not even discussed in the House. The sponsor of the bill in the House, Representative Ed Wildberger, said he blames the Speaker of the House Rod Jetton for the bill not being discussed.
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Description: "The Speaker felt that this wasn't a bill that was going to advance his cause any or his cause of top Republicans who traditionally have more money to spend on elections therefore can buy more robo-calls."

Jetton responded that he was never pushing for or against the bill but said he believes there are consumer protection issues that should be a higher priority.
Reporting from the State Capitol, I'm Laura Nichols.


Intro: Automated political calls could be gone forever if bills pass.

Laura Nichols has more from Jefferson City

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Last year a bill to add political automated calls to the Missouri No Call List passed in the Senate, but was not discussed in the House.

The House sponsor of the bill, Representative Ed Wildberger, said these robo-calls are a common complaint among his constituents and need to be addressed.

Wildberger said he blames House Speaker Rob Jetton for killing the bill because it did not advance his Republican cause, and Republicans have more money to spend on campaigns meaning more robo-calls.

Jetton said he disagrees and that there are more important consumer protection issues to focus on.

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Description: "I wasn't against it.  I wasn't for it.  You know I don't think it's the most highest priority.  I think getting annoyed from a few phone calls is you know not the end of the world so I put my effort on other things."
 
Jetton also said robo-calls are the cheapest way to get a message out so Wildberger's argument that more money means more robo-calls doesn't make sense.
 
Reporting from the State Capitol, I'm Laura Nichols.