RICHMOND — The State Corporation Commission (SCC) received
and resolved more than 13,250 complaints involving regulated industries during 2011
resulting in more than $220 million in refunds, credits, or restitution to Virginians.
In conjunction with the 14th annual National Consumer Protection Week March 4-10,
2012, the SCC reminds Virginians that it stands ready throughout the year to answer
inquiries, handle complaints, and provide information and assistance regarding those
industry sectors over which it has regulatory responsibility.
Whether you are shopping for a mortgage or other loan, comparing insurance policies,
planning for retirement, or reviewing your phone or electric bill, it is important
to know how to protect your interests and where to turn should a problem arise.
The SCC oversees insurance, state-chartered financial institutions, securities,
franchises, and investor-owned utilities (electric, natural gas, water, sewer, and
telecommunications). It provides information and assistance to help consumers make
informed choices and file a complaint if they are not satisfied with responses they
receive from regulated industries. It offers numerous consumer guides and other
information on a variety of topics and has specially trained staff who can assist
consumers with their questions and concerns about regulated individuals and entities.
Just a few of the many ways the SCC helped consumers during 2011 include: facilitating
payments by insurance companies for claims that were improperly denied; recovering
monies improperly charged on loan transactions and securities offerings; ensuring
that utilities provide reliable service and respond promptly to any customer billing
issues; reaching out to Virginians before and after disasters; and much more.
“It pays to be an informed consumer and know how to spot fraudulent offers, unnecessary
fees, and unsuitable financial products,” said Ron Thomas, director of the SCC’s
Division of Securities and Retail Franchising. “The SCC is a valuable resource for
people who want to protect their financial well-being and find legitimate products
and services that suit their particular needs,” he said.
“Our consumer services operations are an integral part of the SCC’s overall mission,”
said E.J. Face Jr., Virginia Commissioner of Financial Institutions. “We can help
consumers arm themselves with the information they need to successfully navigate
today’s increasingly complex marketplace,” he said.
“We encourage consumers to work with the regulated company or individual, should
a problem arise. Contact the appropriate SCC division by phone, mail, or e-mail
using the online complaint form if you are still not satisfied,” said Insurance
Commissioner Jacqueline K. Cunningham. “Take advantage of the many resources available
to you including our knowledgeable staff and the many consumer publications we offer,”
“Consumers should check their telephone bills and question any charges they do not
understand,” said William Irby, director of the SCC’s Division of Communications.
“If your telephone company is not able to explain it to your satisfaction, we can
help,” he said.
When securing products and services, the SCC encourages consumers to shop around
and compare prices, terms, and features. It also recommends that consumers thoroughly
evaluate any offer, keep written records of all transactions, and verify that an
individual or company is licensed or registered with the SCC.
The SCC can assist consumers who have complaints regarding regulated entities. It
encourages consumers to complete a written complaint form relating to their specific
area of concern. The complaint process and forms are available by going to the SCC
website at www.scc.virginia.gov and clicking on the appropriate division.
For more information, call the SCC toll-free in Virginia at 1-800-552-7945 or contact
the following divisions:
- Bureau of Insurance – (804) 371-9741
- Bureau of Financial Institutions – (804) 371-9657
- Division of Securities and Retail Franchising – (804) 371-9051
- Division of Energy Regulation – (804) 371-9611
- Division of Communications – (804) 371-9420
In the event the SCC does not have regulatory authority over a particular firm,
individual, or product, its staff will assist consumers by referring them to the
appropriate local, state, or federal authority for assistance. These may include
the Attorney General’s office, local consumer protection office, Better Business
Bureau, or the Federal Trade Commission’s toll-free helpline at 1-877-FTC-HELP (382-4357).