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Budget Year / Version:
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Program Description

  Consumer Protection

OCP receives and investigates complaints and initiates its own investigations of deceptive or unfair trade practices against consumers. Staff resolve disputes between consumers and merchants, identify violations of County, State, and Federal consumer protection laws, and make referrals to other regulatory agencies when appropriate. Complaint categories include automotive sales/repairs, new home construction, home improvement repairs, predatory financial practices, credit and collection practices, telemarketing, and retail sales.

OCP issues subpoenas to compel the production of documents or the attendance of witnesses. OCP is authorized to hold hearings, administer oaths, and issue civil citations for violations of consumer protection laws. Major investigations are conducted which may result in settlement agreements or abatement orders, or in transmitting cases to the County Attorney for appropriate legal action. Investigators initiate charges for criminal prosecutions by the State's Attorney, and investigators also testify in court. In addition, OCP engages in consumer advocacy by testifying before County, State, and Federal legislative bodies and by drafting new legislation to protect consumers.

OCP develops and conducts consumer education programs. OCP issues press releases through the Public Information Office, holds press conferences, and publishes reports, newsletters, and flyers. Staff respond to requests for information regarding consumer protection rights and remedies. Staff also make presentations at schools, and community, business and civic group meetings; and frequently appear on television and radio news programs. OCP maintains a website containing consumer protection information, a record of the number of complaints received against merchants, and consumer scam alerts. Outreach efforts include social media and initiatives to better address the needs of vulnerable consumers, underserved communities, and residents with limited English proficiency. The Office also works with the Advisory Committee on Consumer Protection and the new home builder Board of Registration.

OCP is responsible for licensing or registering automobile repair and towing businesses; new home builders and sellers; radio, television, and electrical appliance repair shops; and commercial parking lots. OCP registers secondhand personal property dealers to assist the Police in preventing the sale of stolen property and in returning stolen property. OCP serves as the "Patient Advocate" for Montgomery County's Emergency Medical Service (EMS) Transport Insurance Reimbursement Program administered by Fire Rescue Service. OCP also operates a Business Eviction Response Team (BERT) with the Sheriff's Office.

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Program Contacts

Contact K. Samuel Buo of the Office of Consumer Protection at 240.777.3760 or Rafael Pumarejo Murphy of the Office of Management and Budget at 240.777.2775 for more information regarding this department's operating budget.

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Program Performance Measures

Program Performance MeasuresActual FY18Actual FY19Estimated FY20Target FY21Target FY22
Number of business registrations received482646650650650
Number of complaint cases received1,3881,1911,2001,2001,200
Percent of consumer protection cases closed that are resolved by OCP54%51%53%58%60%
Average number of days to Issue a business license / certificate of registration (excluding new home builder registrations)11.9518.1916.7512.0010.00
Average time in workdays to investigate and close a written complaint (All complaints)7684807875
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Program Budget Changes

FY21 Recommended ChangesExpendituresFTEs
FY20 Approved237871716.60
Multi-program adjustments, including negotiated compensation changes, employee benefit changes, changes due to staff turnover, reorganizations, and other budget changes affecting multiple programs.-1440750.00
FY21 Recommended223464216.60