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Consumer Assistance - Where to File Complaints

 


 

Business operating in Virginia?

The Consumer Protection Section of the Office of the Attorney General of Virginia serves as the central clearinghouse for the receipt, evaluation, investigation, and referral of consumer complaints.  Consumer complaints against most businesses operating in Virginia may be filed with our office.  However, not all complaints fall within our jurisdiction.  Before filing a complaint with our office, please view the information provided on this page to determine the proper agency to assist you in the resolution of your complaint.  If you cannot find the subject of your complaint on this page, please try our Agency Locator under Other Complaint Topics – Agency Locator for further assistance in identifying the right agency to help you.

Once you have determined that the Office of the Attorney General of Virginia is the proper agency to assist you, you may complete a complaint form online or download one of our complaint forms.

Completed complaint forms may be sent to:

          Office of the Attorney General of Virginia
          Consumer Protection Section
          900 East Main Street
          Richmond, VA 23219
          Fax:  (804) 225-4378

Our telephone counselors are available to assist you with consumer questions, including where to file your complaint.  You may call our Consumer Protection Hotline at (800) 552-9963 if calling from Virginia, or (804) 786-2042 if calling from the Richmond area or from outside Virginia.  Our business hours are 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Business operating outside of Virginia?

Your state attorney general or other local consumer protection office in the state where the company is based has the greatest chance of obtaining a satisfactory result against a company doing business outside of Virginia. To obtain contact information for other states attorneys general, visit the National Association of Attorneys General web site.

Business versus Business Complaints

Complaints made by one business against another business, or which involve goods or services purchased for commercial use (as opposed to personal, family, or household purposes), generally are not resolved through complaints filed with government agencies.  Such complaints generally are resolved through the courts or various forms of alternative dispute resolution (ADR).  The Better Business Bureau (BBB) does accept some complaints made by one business against another business.  In some cases, forms of ADR, such as mediation or arbitration, are available through the BBB to help resolve the dispute.

Private Disputes Between Individuals

Complaints made by one individual against another individual (where no business is involved) concerning a private transaction, e.g., a purchase made through an Internet auction site, or in response to a "for sale by owner" advertisement in a newspaper, typically are resolved through the courts.  If you want to be represented by an attorney, but do not have a specific attorney in mind, you may contact one through the Virginia Lawyer Referral Service at (804) 775-0808 or toll-free inside Virginia at 1-800-552-7977 or by visiting: http://www.vsb.org/vlrs/.   In Virginia, where the amount in dispute is $5,000 or less, an aggrieved consumer may file an action in the Small Claims Court that is part of their jurisdiction's General District Court.  Neither party may be represented by an attorney in Small Claims Court.  Small Claims Court Procedures 

Insurance company

The State Corporation Commission’s Bureau of Insurance (Bureau) regulates insurance companies and investigates insurance complaints. The Bureau’s web site contains information about the Bureau, instructions for filing a consumer complaint, and instructions for downloading consumer publications. Contact information for the Bureau is below:

Bureau of Insurance Web Site
Bureau of Insurance toll free in Virginia: 1-800-552-7945
Bureau’s Life & Health Consumer Services: (804) 371-9691
Bureau’s Property & Casualty Consumer Services: (804) 371-9185

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Banks

Banks and other regulated financial institutions are exempt from the Virginia Consumer Protection Act, which this office enforces.  The Bureau of Financial Institutions (BFI) is a division within the Virginia State Corporation Commission. The BFI has jurisdiction over Virginia state-chartered financial institutions and certain out-of-state entities that have been granted authority to do business in the Commonwealth.

It is important to remember that the BFI does not act as the complainant's attorney. It also does not have the power to adjudicate complaints. If a dispute turns on facts that do not involve a supervised entity's violation of a specific law or regulation (such as a matter concerning internal policies or guidelines) the BFI will advise the complainant about other ways to pursue the complaint, such as through consulting a private attorney and/or initiating a court proceeding.

Bureau of Financial Institutions Web Site
The BFI does not have the authority to resolve complaints involving entities that are not under Virginia jurisdiction. Some institutions are regulated by federal government agencies. For example:

Commercial banks having the word "National" or using the title "N.A." (national association) in their title, are organized under and subject to federal law. Requests for information or complaints concerning these national banks should be directed to:

Office of the Comptroller of the Currency
1-800-613-6743 (nationwide toll free number)

Savings banks and savings and loan associations having the word "Federal" in their name or which uses the initials "FSB" (federal savings bank), "FSA" (federal savings association), "FA" (federal association) or "FSLA" (federal savings and loan association) are regulated by the Office of Thrift Supervision, a federal agency. Inquiries or complaints should be directed to:

Office of Thrift Supervision
1-800-842-6929 (nationwide toll free number)

Federally regulated credit unions are similarly identified by the word "federal" in their name. Inquiries and complaints concerning federal credit unions should be directed to:National Credit Union Admin.
(703) 518-6300

You may also file a complaint with:

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB)
(855) 411-CFPB (2372)

The CFPB is a federal agency that answers questions and handles complaints about consumer financial products or services. If you are having an issue with a credit card, mortgage, bank account or service, private student loan, consumer loan, credit reporting, money transfer, or debt collection, click here (http://www.consumerfinance.gov/complaint/) to submit a complaint to the CFPB or call toll-free at (855) 411-CFPB (2372).

Sweepstakes/Lottery/Fake Check Scams from a U.S. Company

You may file a complaint with our office.

You may also file a complaint with:
United States Postal Inspector's Office
Federal Trade Commission

(Although the FTC cannot resolve individual disputes, the information you provide may help indicate a pattern of possible law violations requiring action by the FTC or other law enforcement agency.)

Sweepstakes/Lottery/Fake Check Scams from a Canadian company

Complaints about Canadian sweepstakes and lotteries may be filed with the Canadian Royal Mounted Police. If the sweepstakes or lottery offer was initiated through a telemarketing call, your complaint can be filed with Phonebusters. Phonebusters is the national deceptive telemarketing call center, operated by the Ontario Provincial Police. They educate the public about specific fraudulent telemarketing pitches as well as collect and disseminate evidence to outside investigations.

Charity

The Office of Charitable and Regulatory Programs (OCRP) within the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, is responsible for the administration of the Virginia Solicitation of Contributions Law.

The law requires any organization soliciting in Virginia to file with OCRP. Registration does not imply endorsement of a public solicitation for contributions. Before contributing it is always advisable to determine if the group has filed with OCRP and to review financial information on the organization to determine how they intend to spend your contribution.

You may contact OCRP online at www.vdacs.virginia.gov or by calling (804) 786-1343.

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Call to number on National Do Not Call Registry.

If you have registered for the National Do Not Call Registry administered by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), please note that it will take 31 days from the date of registration before telemarketers subject to the Registry must stop calling you. If you receive a telemarketing call 31 days after you register, you may file a complaint. Complaints regarding telemarketing calls made to consumers who registered for the National Do Not Call Registry can be filed with the FTC.

Complaints filed online with the FTC are routinely reviewed by law enforcement agencies to determine whether a pattern or practice of violations of the National Do Not Call Registry is occurring. The National Do Not Call Registry can be enforced by the FTC, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), and the Virginia Attorney General’s Office among other governmental entities.

Call from company you asked not to call you and other telemarketing complaints not involving the National Do Not Call Registry.

If you have requested to be placed on a company's own "Do Not Call" list and that company calls you again, you may file a complaint with our office.

Local or long distance telephone service provider

The State Corporation Commission’s Division of Communications (Division) regulates local and long distance (intra-state) telecommunications service provided within Virginia. The Division also investigates consumer complaints about telecommunications service. Information about the Division, as well as instructions for downloading the Division’s consumer complaint form and filing complaints is available online.

The Division does not regulate interstate long distance service or resellers of long distance service. Complaints about interstate service and resellers should be addressed to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau.

If you are not a Virginia resident, you should file your complaint with your state utility commission, which regulates utility companies doing business in your state. Locate your state utility commission at the National Association of Regulatory Commissioners.

Cellular/Wireless Phone Service

Although the State Corporation Commission does not regulate wireless telephone providers, as a service to Virginia's wireless consumers, its Division of Communications will work with the following wireless providers to try to resolve wireless complaints: Alltel Wireless, Appalachian Wireless, Cingular Wireless, Ntelos Wireless, Sprint Nextel, T-Mobile, US Cellular Corporation, and Verizon Wireless.  Complaints can be filed with the SCC Division of Communications.

If you are not a Virginia resident, you should file your complaint with your state utility commission, which regulates utility companies doing business in your state. Locate your state utility commission at the National Association of Regulatory Commissioners.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulates and oversees cellular/wireless phones and pagers and investigates such consumer complaints. For complaints about wireless service from other providers, you can file your complaint by writing, calling or e-mailing the FCC's Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau.

Collection Agencies

Complaints against collection agencies that collect debts owed to others should be filed with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).  The CFPB is a federal agency that answers questions and handles complaints about consumer financial products or services. If you are having an issue with a credit card, mortgage, bank account or service, private student loan, consumer loan, credit reporting, money transfer, or debt collection, click here (http://www.consumerfinance.gov/complaint/) to submit a complaint to the CFPB or call toll-free at (855) 411-CFPB (2372).

Price Gouging

The Virginia Post-Disaster Anti-Price Gouging Act is activated when the governor or the president declares a state of emergency covering parts of Virginia.   The act prohibits a "supplier" from charging unconscionable prices for "necessary goods and services" within the affected area during the thirty (30) day period following the declared state of emergency.   The term "necessary goods and services" includes goods or services for which demand does, or is likely to, increase as a result of the disaster.  Examples include, but are not limited to, water, ice, food, generators, batteries, home repair services, tree removal services, and motor fuels.  The basic test for determining if a price is unconscionable is whether the post-disaster price charged by the "supplier" grossly exceeds the price charged for the same or similar goods or services either by the same supplier, or within the same trade area, during the ten (10) days immediately prior to the disaster. Complaints relating to sales of "necessary goods and services" other than motor fuels should be filed with the Office of the Attorney General.    Here is the form:

Complaints relating to sales of motor fuels should be filed with the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Office of Weights and Measures.   Here is the form:

Electric, gas or water company

The State Corporation Commission’s Division of Energy Regulation (Division) regulates electric, gas and water utility companies and responds to utility complaints. The Division’s web site contains information about the Division, as well as consumer information. The Division can also be reached by calling:  Toll free in VA: 1-800-552-7945 OR (804) 371-9611.

The Division does not regulate municipal utilities. For complaints about municipal utilities, you should contact your local government.

Propane Gas

If you have a complaint about bottled or tank propane gas, you may file a complaint with our office.

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Landlord/Tenant

Please view our general information regarding residential landlord-tenant issues.

Timeshare or Timeshare Reseller

The Common Interest Community Board at the Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation (DPOR) registers time-share projects. DPOR’s Regulatory Programs and Compliance Section receives all complaints to determine the agency’s authority to investigate.

Lemon Law

Please view our Lemon Law page for information regarding where to file complaints.

Towing

The Consumer Protection Section of the Office of the Attorney General of Virginia serves as the central clearinghouse for the receipt, evaluation, investigation, and referral of consumer complaints. Consumer complaints against towing and recovery operators and tow truck drivers operating in Virginia may be filed with our office. However, not all towing complaints fall within our jurisdiction.  For example, complaints alleging violations of local ordinances should be filed with the appropriate local office.  The Department of Criminal Justice Services is responsible for the registration of tow truck drivers operating in Virginia.  Inquiries concerning whether a particular driver is registered should be directed to that Department.

Once you have determined that the Office of the Attorney General of Virginia is the proper agency to assist you, you may download our towing complaint form.

Completed complaint forms may be sent to:

Office of the Attorney General of Virginia
Consumer Protection Section
900 East Main Street
Richmond, VA 23219
Fax: (804) 225-4378

Our telephone counselors are available to assist you with consumer questions, including where to file your complaint. You may call our Consumer Protection Hotline at (800) 552-9963 if calling from Virginia, or (804) 786-2042 if calling from the Richmond area or from outside Virginia. Our business hours are 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Health Spas, Travel Clubs, Membership Campgrounds, Credit Services Businesses, Extended Service Contracts or Legal Services Contracts

These businesses are regulated by the Office of Charitable and Regulatory Programs (OCRP) within the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Complaints regarding these businesses should be filed with OCRP, 102 Governor Street, Richmond, VA 23219. Telephone inquiries regarding these businesses may be made as follows:

Health Spas, call (804)225-4601;
Travel Clubs, call (804) 786-1281;
Membership Campgrounds, Extended Service Contracts, or Legal Services Contracts, call (804) 786-0321;
Credit Services Businesses, call (804) 371-0392.

Other Complaint Topics - Agency Locator

If you cannot find the subject of your complaint on this page, please try our Agency Locator for further assistance in identifying the proper agency to help you in the resolution of your complaint.

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