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Mission Statement

The mission of the Office of Consumer Protection (OCP) is to enforce consumer protection laws prohibiting unfair and deceptive business acts or practices to ensure a fair marketplace for consumers and businesses. Activities include complaint resolution, law enforcement, education, legislation, advocacy, and outreach to vulnerable consumers.

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Budget Overview

The total recommended FY19 Operating Budget for the Office of Consumer Protection is $2,337,140, a decrease of $27,457 or 1.16 percent from the FY18 Approved Budget of $2,364,597. Personnel Costs comprise 91.63 percent of the budget for 17 full-time position(s) and one part-time position(s), and a total of 16.60 FTEs. Total FTEs may include seasonal or temporary positions and may also reflect workforce charged to or from other departments or funds. Operating Expenses account for the remaining 8.37 percent of the FY19 budget.

Linkage to County Result Areas

While this program area supports all eight of the County Result Areas, the following are emphasized:

  • A Responsive, Accountable County Government
  • Strong and Vibrant Economy
  • Vital Living for All of Our Residents

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Department Performance Measures

Performance measures for this department are included below (where applicable). The FY18 estimates reflect funding based on the FY18 approved budget. The FY19 and FY20 figures are performance targets based on the FY19 recommended budget and funding for comparable service levels in FY20.

MeasureActual
FY16
Actual
FY17
Estimated
FY18
Target
FY19
Target
FY20
Restitution received as a percent of restitution asked for by the consumer and validated by the assigned OCP case investigator88%83%84%85%85%
Average OCP customer satisfaction rating - Manner in which the customer's case was handled (1-4 scale) based on customer satisfaction survey3.63.13.23.33.4
Average OCP customer satisfaction rating - Outcome of the customer's case (1-4 scale) based on customer satisfaction survey3.42.93.03.13.2
Average time in workdays to investigate and close a written complaint (All complaints)5851505050
Average time in workdays to investigate and close a written complaint (> $5,000)7578777675
Average time in workdays to investigate and close a written complaint ($1,001 - $5,000)5978767472
Average time in workdays to investigate and close a written complaint ($101 - $1,000)5652525150
Average time in workdays to investigate and close a written complaint (< $100)4756545250
Percent of consumer protection cases closed that are resolved by OCP66%60%61%62%63%
Media Coverage - Percent of news releases receiving media coverage, including print news, television and radio100%100%100%100%100%
Media Coverage - Number of times media outlets, including print news, television and radio, seek out OCP's expertise2224242525

Accomplishments

  • OCP obtained refunds and other resolutions for consumers victimized by a longstanding "Theft of Deposit" scam in which a real estate merchant purported to sell and build new homes on properties in Montgomery County. Numerous consumers paid deposits ranging from $40,000 to $270,000 and waited several years for the land to be conveyed and for the houses to be built. The merchant is an unlicensed builder and sold the same properties to several different consumer victims. OCP collaborated with other regulatory agencies to pursue enforcement action.
  • OCP issued two press releases based upon months of investigative research, which received substantial media attention. An alert and video was issued describing the systemic deception inherent in the coupon-based air duct cleaning industry and provided consumers with helpful information regarding licensing and regulation. A warning was also issued to consumers and merchants regarding fake donation boxes in Montgomery County that made misleading claims regarding charitable services for lost pets or children.

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Initiatives

  • OCP reached out to consumers and businesses in Montgomery County for whom English is not their primary language and launched a "Language Friendly" outreach program. This multiprong effort included: translating consumer protection information into several languages (Korean, Chinese, Amharic, French, Vietnamese, Russian, and Spanish); placing consumer education information and advertisements in Korean and Chinese language newspapers; and recruiting bilingual volunteers to be in the OCP office during specified days of the week.

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Innovations and Productivity Improvements

  • OCP worked with the Department of Technology Services (DTS) to bring business and licensing and registration platforms online to better serve consumers and businesses.

  • OCP enhanced outreach efforts by developing a series of two-minute video alerts regarding numerous scams and consumer protection topics. These videos have been distributed through social media and posted online.

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Collaboration and Partnerships

Shedding Light on Buying Solar Panels

In response to a spike in residential solar power marketing, OCP investigated and resolved numerous complaints regarding the sale and installation of solar panel systems. OCP collaborated with the Department of Permitting Services, the Maryland Home Improvement Commission, and the State's Attorney's Office to successfully bring criminal charges against an unlicensed solar panel installer. The Office prepared and distributed a newsletter to provide helpful information to consumers regarding how to purchase residential solar panels.

Partners

Department of Permitting Services, Office of the State's Attorney

 

Program Descriptions

  Consumer Protection

OCP receives and investigates complaints and initiates its own investigations of deceptive or unfair trade practices against consumers. Staff resolves disputes between consumers and merchants, identifies violations of County, State, and Federal consumer protection laws, and makes referrals to other agencies when appropriate. Complaint categories include automotive sales/repairs, new home...

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Budget Trends
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Program Contacts

Contact Marsha Carter of the Office of Consumer Protection at 240.777.3686 or Crystal B. Sallee of the Office of Management and Budget at 240.777.2778 for more information regarding this department's operating budget.

Related Links
Budget Summary
TitleActual
FY17
Budget
FY18
Estimate
FY18
Recommended
FY19
%Chg
Bud/Rec
COUNTY GENERAL FUND
EXPENDITURES
Salaries and Wages1409294.001524584.00 1412159.00 1574368.003.3
Employee Benefits584855.00635621.00 609704.00 567188.00-10.8
County General Fund Personnel Costs1994149.002160205.00 2021863.00 2141556.00-0.9
Operating Expenses88542.00204392.00 160552.00 195584.00-4.3
County General Fund Expenditures2082691.002364597.00 2182415.00 2337140.00-1.2
PERSONNEL
Full-Time16.0017.00 17.00 17.000.0
Part-Time1.001.00 1.00 1.000.0
FTEs15.6016.60 16.60 16.600.0
REVENUES
Miscellaneous Revenues116.000.00 0.00 0.000.0
New Home Builder's License153800.00134500.00 134500.00 139500.003.7
Other Fines/Forfeitures1050.001000.00 1000.00 1000.000.0
Other Licenses/Permits49916.0060000.00 60000.00 60000.000.0
County General Fund Revenues204882.00195500.00 195500.00 200500.002.6
FY19 Recommended Changes
TitleExpendituresFTEs
COUNTY GENERAL FUND
FY18 ORIGINAL APPROPRIATION236459716.60
Other Adjustments (with no service impacts)
Increase Cost: FY19 Compensation Adjustment482440.00
Increase Cost: Annualization of FY18 Lapsed Positions [Consumer Protection]299690.00
Increase Cost: Allocation for Multilingual Pay [Consumer Protection]78940.00
Increase Cost: Printing and Mail1200.00
Decrease Cost: Elimination of One-Time Items Approved in FY18 [Consumer Protection]-31530.00
Decrease Cost: Professional Services [Consumer Protection]-57750.00
Decrease Cost: Retirement Adjustment-201180.00
Decrease Cost: Annualization of FY18 Personnel Costs-345710.00
Decrease Cost: Increase Lapse [Consumer Protection]-500670.00
FY19 RECOMMENDED233714016.60
Charges to Other Departments
Charged DepartmentCharged FundFY18
Total$
FY18
FTES
FY19
Total$
FY19
FTES
COUNTY GENERAL FUND
Fire and Rescue ServiceFire711741.00747501.00
Future Fiscal Impacts ($000s)
TitleFY19FY20FY21FY22FY23FY24
COUNTY GENERAL FUND
EXPENDITURES
FY19 Recommended2337.0000002337.0000002337.0000002337.0000002337.0000002337.000000
No inflation or compensation change is included in outyear projections.
Elimination of One-Time Items Recommended in FY190.0000006.0000006.0000006.0000006.0000006.000000
Items recommended for one-time funding in FY19, including operating expenses for professional services will be eliminated from the base in the outyears.
Restore One-Time Lapse Increase0.00000050.00000050.00000050.00000050.00000050.000000
Restoration of one-time lapse adjustment in the budget development year
Labor Contracts0.00000020.00000020.00000020.00000020.00000020.000000
These figures represent the estimated annualized cost of general wage adjustments, service increments, and other negotiated items.
Subtotal Expenditures2337.0000002413.0000002413.0000002413.0000002413.0000002413.000000