RICHMOND — Financial services and utility bills can be confusing. Whether you are shopping for insurance, comparing loans, investing for retirement or trying to understand your utility bill, it is important to know your rights and responsibilities and where help is available, if needed.
The State Corporation Commission (SCC) encourages Virginians to sharpen their consumer skills by comparing prices and terms, avoiding unnecessary fees, finding products and services that suit their individual needs and learning to avoid scams. Their initial decisions are their best line of protection.
As part of National Consumer Protection Week, March 5-11, 2017, the SCC reminds Virginians to always check that they are doing business with an entity authorized to transact business in Virginia under corporate law. The SCC can assist with industries over which it has direct regulatory oversight including insurance companies and agents, state-chartered financial institutions, investment firms and their representatives, retail franchises and investor-owned utilities providing electric, natural gas, water, sewer and telecommunications services.
Consumers who have questions or concerns about a regulated individual or entity can call the SCC toll-free in Virginia at 1-800-552-7945 or visit its website at www.scc.virginia.gov. They also may contact the appropriate SCC division listed below:
- Bureau of Insurance – (804) 371-9741
- Bureau of Financial Institutions – (804) 371-9657
- Division of Securities and Retail Franchising – (804) 371-9051
- Division of Public Utility Regulation – (804) 371-9611
- Office of the Clerk – (804) 371-9733
Each section of the SCC offers consumer guides or other helpful information.
Among the many ways the SCC has helped consumers in the past are: 1) recovering monies improperly charged on loan transactions and securities offerings; 2) facilitating payments by insurance companies for claims that were improperly denied; 3) ensuring that utilities provide reliable service and respond promptly to customer billing issues, and 4) reaching out to Virginians before and after disasters.
In the event of a problem, the SCC encourages Virginians to work directly with the regulated company or individual. If you still are not satisfied, contact the appropriate SCC division by phone, mail or email using an online complaint form. Those forms and a description of the complaint process are available on the SCC website.
Even if the SCC does not have regulatory authority over a particular firm, individual or product, its staff will refer consumers to the appropriate local, state or federal organization for assistance. These may include the Attorney General’s Office, local consumer protection office, Better Business Bureau, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau toll-free at (855) 411-2372, or the Federal Trade Commission’s toll-free helpline at 1-877-FTC-HELP (382-4357).
For more information about National Consumer Protection Week, visit www.ncpw.gov.