RICHMOND — Whether you are shopping for insurance or a loan or comparing credit cards or investment products, the more you know, the better when it comes to getting the biggest bang for your buck. The State Corporation Commission (SCC) encourages Virginians to take charge of their financial future by knowing how to protect their interests and where to turn for help if a problem occurs.
National Consumer Protection Week, which runs from March 3-9, 2019, is an opportunity for consumers to gain a better understanding of their rights and options when it comes to spending – and saving – their money. During this week, the Federal Trade Commission and other federal, state and local agencies and organizations, including the SCC, promote consumer awareness about making sound financial decisions and avoiding identity theft and fraud.
The SCC reminds Virginians that it stands ready year-round to answer inquiries, handle complaints and provide information and assistance regarding industry sectors over which it has regulatory responsibility. Those sectors include 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.
The SCC offers numerous consumer guides and other information on a variety of topics. Its specially trained staff can assist Virginians in making informed choices and submitting a complaint if they are not satisfied with the responses they receive from regulated entities.
Among the ways the SCC can help consumers are assisting consumers in handling complaints or disputes with regulated companies, such as when their insurance company improperly denies a claim; or they receive improper charges as part of a loan transaction or securities offering; or ensuring that utilities provide reliable service and respond promptly to customer billing issues, and much more.
The SCC encourages consumers to shop around and compare prices and terms; thoroughly evaluate any offer; keep written records of all transactions; find products and services that suit your particular needs; review statements and bills regularly; learn to spot scams, and verify that an individual or company is properly licensed or registered.
If a problem arises, the SCC urges consumers to try to resolve it with the regulated individual or company first. Consumers can contact the appropriate SCC division by phone, mail or email (using the online complaint) form if they still are not satisfied. The complaint process and forms are available by going to the SCC website at www.scc.virginia.gov and clicking on the appropriate division. To contact the SCC by phone, call toll-free (in Virginia) at 1-800-552-7945 or in Richmond, call:
- 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
- Division of Information Resources – 804-371-9141
In the event the SCC does not have regulatory authority over a particular firm, individual, product or transaction, 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, law enforcement agencies, Better Business Bureau or the Federal Trade Commission’s toll-free helpline at 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357).
To learn more about National Consumer Protection Week, visit https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/.