Budget Year / Version:

Program Description

  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 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 compel the attendance of witnesses. The Office is authorized to hold hearings, administer oaths, and issue civil citations for violations of consumer protection laws. Special investigations are conducted and may result in settlement agreements or abatement orders, or in transmitting cases to the Office of the County Attorney for appropriate legal action. Investigators initiate charges for criminal prosecutions by the Office of the State's Attorney, and investigators also testify in court as expert witnesses. In addition, the Office 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. The Office issues press releases through the Office of Public Information, holds press conferences, and publishes consumer brochures. Staff responds to requests for information regarding consumer protection rights and remedies. Staff makes presentations at schools; community, business and civic group meetings; and frequently appear on television and radio news programs. The Office maintains a webpage containing consumer protection information, a record of the number of complaints received against merchants, and consumer alerts. Outreach efforts include 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.

OCP is responsible for licensing or registering automobile repair and towing businesses; new homebuilders; radio, television, and electrical appliance repair shops; and secondhand personal property dealers.

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.


Program Performance Measures

Program Performance MeasuresActual FY17Actual FY18Estimated FY19Target FY20Target FY21
Restitution received as a percent of restitution asked for by the consumer and validated by the assigned OCP case investigator83%94.7%85%85%85%
Average OCP customer satisfaction rating - Manner in which the customer's case was handled (1-4 scale) based on customer satisfaction survey3.13.1444
Average OCP customer satisfaction rating - Outcome of the customer's case (1-4 scale) based on customer satisfaction survey2.
Average time in workdays to investigate and close a written complaint (All complaints)5176757065
Average time in workdays to investigate and close a written complaint (> $5,000)781031009590
Average time in workdays to investigate and close a written complaint ($1,001 - $5,000)7890888580
Average time in workdays to investigate and close a written complaint ($101 - $1,000)5260605857
Average time in workdays to investigate and close a written complaint (< $100)56102807060
Percent of consumer protection cases closed that are resolved by OCP60%54%56%58%60%
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 expertise2419192022

Program Budget Changes

FY20 Approved ChangesExpendituresFTEs
FY19 Approved233714016.60
Decrease Cost: Lapse Part-time, Vacant Admininstrative Specialist I Position-515240.00
Decrease Cost: Operating Expenses-790780.00
Multi-program adjustments, including negotiated compensation changes, employee benefit changes, changes due to staff turnover, reorganizations, and other budget changes affecting multiple programs.1721790.00
FY20 Approved237871716.60