The Consumer Protection Unit is responsible for processing all inquires received from consumers who are complaining about businesses. The unit has two divisions: The Mediation Unit and the Enforcement Unit. The Mediation Unit assists individual consumers with informal resolution of their disputes with business entities. The Enforcement Unit prosecutes criminal and civil cases in the name of the People of the State of California against those engaging in unlawful or fraudulent business practices.
The mediation staff, which includes volunteers, is available to assist consumers in resolving their disputes with business entities by offering to mediate those disputes. The mediation staff also provides information about consumer transactions by answering questions from the public and by educating consumers and businesses as to their rights and responsibilities. The online consumer protection complaint form can be printed, filled out and mailed to us (see attachment at bottom of the page). Or you may call (408) 792-2880 or e-mail us and we will mail you a complaint form.
Examples of Common Consumer Questions
Do I have three days to cancel the purchase of a new or used car?
Must a store take back a purchase and refund my money?
What do I do when a mechanic wants more money for a car repair than shown on the estimate?
I received a card in the mail telling me that I won a prize and to claim it I must send $19.95. Is this OK?
My credit report contains inaccurate information. What can I do?
A merchant charged me an extra fee for the use of my credit card. Is this wrong?
My landlord kept my security deposit and will not refund it to me nor account for its use. How do I get my deposit back?
A local store advertises a product at a given price without disclosing that there are additional hidden costs. Can I get the advertised price? To whom do I report this?
Attorneys in the Enforcement Division review and evaluate complaints referred by Mediation Services as well as state and local regulatory and law enforcement agencies to determine whether to initiate a public prosecution against an individual or entity for unlawful business practices.
CONSUMER RESOURCES ON THE INTERNET
The State Department of Consumer Affairs
helps Californians be careful consumers. Their role is to protect the public from business professionals who are unqualified, unlicensed and/or dishonest. They have jurisdiction over many licensed professions, including contractors and automotive repair businesses.
The Consumer Information Center
, a part of the U.S. General Services Administration, publishes a 144 page handbook of valuable information for the consumer. The handbook provides extensive advice, consumer tips, and a Consumer Assistance Directory. The Directory contains listings for national consumer agencies, better business bureaus, trade associations, and state and federal agencies.
The Federal Trade Commission
enforces a variety of federal antitrust and consumer protection laws. The Commission seeks to ensure that the nation's markets function competitively, and are vigorous, efficient, and free of undue restrictions. The Commission also works to enhance the smooth operation of the marketplace by eliminating acts or practices that are unfair or deceptive. In general, the Commission's efforts are directed toward stopping actions that threaten consumers' opportunities to exercise informed choice. The FTC has a wealth of information on several topics including advertising, credit, products and services, and investments.
, published by Consumer Union, rates consumer products, and provides pricing information on new and used automobiles. Portions of the website are fee based.
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