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When someone submits a complaint at Stop Fraud Colorado, the Colorado Attorney General’s office takes note.

It is, after all, the AG’s website. Last year, more than 18,000 complaints were submitted by frustrated consumers hoping someone would pay attention. Attorney General Phil Weiser said that even if a response isn’t immediate, the complaint is not ignored.

“We’ve adopted a Salesforce-based system to capture all these complaints and the individuals who are reporting them,” said Weiser, who earlier this month shared the top 10 types of complaints Coloradans submitted last year. “After the 100th person calls (about a similar gripe), then it’s like, ‘OK, we’ve got an issue here.’ Then we go back and we call all the people and say we’re now looking at this issue.”

There’s no real target number though. The 100 figure was an example of what happened when customers began complaining about CenturyLink’s “price lock” issue a few years ago. The telecom provider’s prices weren’t quite locked in and a 99-cent fee quadrupled over three years. CenturyLink, now called Lumen, settled the case by paying $8.5 million. The bulk of the money went to the state for violating the Colorado Consumer Protection Act, though payments also were sent to 205,000 Colorado customers.

But when thousands upon thousands of complaints come in, the challenge is also how to address more of them.

Democratic Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser speaking during an election watch party on Nov. 8, 2022, in downtown Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Last year, the AG’s office made progress with that challenge. It launched a pilot called the Consumer Mediation Program, put together “with bubblegum and duct tape,” Weiser said. Helpful interns and a post-grad fellow worked as mediators between consumers and the companies that they said had wronged them. The pilot resolved 65 cases and returned $120,000 to aggrieved customers. That excluded goodwill companies offered to make things right, such as free service for a few months. 

“We weren’t in a posture of threatening investigation or anything,” he said. “We were just saying, ‘We got these concerns here that you might want to look at. Are you willing to do something?’ And a lot of times companies did.”

It wasn’t perfect. They tried to resolve 218 complaints last year. But that’s better than before the pilot when the AG’s office either investigated the claim or just kept a record of it. The success was enough to turn it into an established program this year. The AG’s office hired a full-time mediator who will continue to build out the program to help more consumers. As for what gets kicked to the mediator?

“If you look at our top 10 list,” Weiser said, “that gives you a flavor for the types of cases that the mediation program did address.”

The Top 10 list

Retail sales remained the most complained about topic for consumers last year. That includes complaints about unauthorized memberships or subscriptions, service and delivery issues, and cancellation and termination issues.

In second place? Contractors, or typically those who provide home-remodeling services and handyman functions, like fixing heaters or air conditioners. Complaints about product and service warranties ranked third, as part of Professional Services.

That data jibes with what has been going on in the past year or so. Travel was iffy so people spent money to remodel a kitchen, bath or backyard. Labor and supply shortages in 2021 and 2022 led to projects getting booked out well after pandemic restrictions were lifted.

Common complaints were contractors who were hired and paid, but didn’t finish the job, didn’t do the job as hired or weren’t qualified to do the work. (A tip from Weiser: “Make sure you’re not paying everything upfront.”)

Angi, the Denver firm that rose out of the merger between HomeAdvisor and Angie’s List, gives an extra layer of support between contractors and consumers. While home service professionals and remodelers work independently of Angi, they’re only listed on the site if they pass certain muster, including being licensed, passing a criminal background check for the owner or manager, and maintaining a 3-star rating.

“We are not a platform for consumers to solely share complaints about any service provider they’ve hired. However, if a consumer encounters any issues with a professional they found through our platform, we are committed to assisting them in finding a resolution,” said Angie Hicks, the company’s chief customer officer. 

What may be somewhat surprising is that the number of complaints has doubled in five years. There were roughly 18,000 last year, compared to 9,110 in 2018.  The AG’s office theorized that it could be due to efforts to promote its consumer protection tools and awareness of where to complain, at But it’s also a sign of the times. Digital companies often make it challenging for customers seeking help. 

“There’s been a trend in the economy over the last several decades where more and more consumers are having to fend for themselves. Companies are leaving more of a burden on consumers to make sure they’re getting fair treatment,” Weiser said. “It’s been made harder in some cases for consumers to get that satisfaction. So I think that also creates more of a need for consumers to turn to us and say, ‘Hey, I’ve not been treated properly here. Can you help?’”

What’s missing? Robocalls 

Notably absent for the second year in a row were fraudulent and unwanted telephone calls. The category ranked as the top complaint in 2018 and 2019, and No. 2 in 2020. Airlines took over the top spot in 2020 as consumers had to cancel air travel during the pandemic. Airlines never returned to the Top 10.

But neither did unwanted calls.

Tips for ending unwanted calls

  • Don’t answer the phone. And if you accidentally do, don’t engage by answering questions. Use common sense. That’s the FCC’s advice to prevent future calls.
  • Use the call blocking tools available from your phone service. Here’s the FCC’s list of companies.
  • Register with the National Do Not Call Registry because it’s still legal to telemarket, but the law-abiding marketers won’t call people on that list. >> Register
  • File a complaint with the FCC, the Colorado AG or the Do Not Call Registry

Credit goes to major changes in government policies and technology to address unwanted calls, especially robocalls in recent years. The Federal Communications Commission required large and small phone services to adopt the STIR/SHAKEN protocols (do you really want to know what the acronyms stand for?). The technology essentially authenticates the caller’s identity to prevent spoofing and to help consumers better judge whether to answer the phone or ignore the call, or help providers stop the calls from reaching customers.

T-Mobile launched Scam Shield for its customers, and it either blocks calls or alerts the user that the call is suspicious. After implementing changes mandated by the FCC in ealy 2022, scam call volume declined, according to a T-Mobile report. In the first half of last year, the company blocked 4.2 billion robocalls a month. That declined to 2.7 billion a month in the last half of the year, which the company credited to the technology and “changing scammer tactics,” said Joel Rushing, a T-Mobile spokesman.

Like all major mobile services in recent years, T-Mobile added verification technology to better identify potential scammers and unwanted robocallers. Its Scam Shield technology, as seen in this artist rendering, visually shows when callers are suspicious. (T-Mobile handout)

There are still a ton of robocalls. Many are legal, such as political calls from candidates running for office or charities asking for donations. Consumers also may not realize the number of calls because their phone provider mutes the call. 

YouMail, a company that tracks robocalls and offers an independent robocall blocking app, estimated that there were 4.2 billion robocalls nationwide in February. But minus the calls considered scams or fraud, “roughly 60% are legal (though not necessarily wanted),” YouMail CEO Alex Quilici said in an email.

➔ The Do Not Call Registry has its own Top 5. More than 3 million complaints were reported to the National Do Not Call Registry in fiscal year 2022, with “imposters” at the top of the list and 9.4% of the total. Warranties and protection plans ranked second, and calls about medical and prescription came in third. There are 4,762,887 Colorado numbers are registered with the DNC registry. >> The list, register a number, file a complaint

The company’s data also shows that robocalls declined 9.2% in Colorado last year. That still meant 749.3 million robocalls targeted Colorado phone numbers. So far this year, Coloradans are averaging 22.3 robocalls, or 10 to 12 per month, Quilici said.

“The 22.3 this year is an estimate of how many robocalls are hitting the phones of people in Colorado,” Quilici said. 

Another growing annoyance are spam texts. YouMail hasn’t published data yet on the growth but Quilici believes they’re on the same trajectory as scam phone calls. He said the YouMail iPhone app is blocking spam texts while the Android version is coming soon.

Meanwhile, organizations like the Colorado Public Interest Research Group and the AG’s office are aimed at helping the population more vulnerable to phishing scams and fraudulent calls, including the elderly and people for whom English is not their primary language. 

“We’ve seen a reduction in the overall number of bad robocalls coming into the state, but we’re starting to see them focus more and more on the vulnerable populations, the ones more likely to be scammed,” said Danny Katz, executive director of COPIRG. “That’s what we’re keeping an eye on.”

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Tamara writes about businesses, technology and the local economy for The Colorado Sun. She also writes the "What's Working" column, available as a free newsletter at Contact her at,...