The more you know, the better when it comes to successfully navigating the choices and complexities of everyday life. Whether you are comparing insurance policies, shopping for a mortgage or other loan, understanding your utility bills, or planning for retirement, it is important to know how to protect your interests and where to turn for help if you have a question or complaint.
In conjunction with the 17th annual National Consumer Protection Week March 1-7, the State Corporation Commission (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. Those sectors include insurance, state-chartered financial institutions, securities, franchises, and investor-owned utilities (electric, natural gas, water, sewer, and telecommunications).
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 filing a complaint if they are not satisfied with the responses they receive from regulated industries. Consumers with questions or concerns about a regulated individual or entity can contact SCC representatives or visit its website at www.scc.virginia.gov.
The SCC encourages Virginians to make the most of their money by understanding how to find products and services best suited to their needs and knowing where to turn should a problem arise.
“Protect your financial well-being by learning 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 if you want to better understand your rights and responsibilities and find products that are best suited to your particular needs.”
“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 arm Virginians with information they can use to successfully navigate today’s increasingly complex marketplace.”
Whether for insurance, telephone or electric service, loans, or investments, the SCC encourages Virginians to thoroughly examine any bills or statements they receive. “Consumers should check their bills regularly and question any charges they do not understand,” said William Irby, director of the SCC’s Division of Communications. “If your telephone company or other service provider does not explain it to your satisfaction, we can help,” he said.
“Should a problem arise, we encourage Virginians to work directly with regulated companies or individuals,” said Virginia Insurance Commissioner Jacqueline K. Cunningham. “If you still are not satisfied with the result, contact the appropriate SCC division by phone, mail, or email using our online complaint forms. Take advantage of the many resources the SCC offers including our knowledgeable staff and the wealth of information available through our publications and on our website,” she said.
The SCC encourages Virginians to shop around for products and services, 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 stands ready to assist consumers who have complaints regarding regulated entities. It encourages consumers to complete a written complaint form relating to their specific area of concern. To access complaint forms and a description of the complaint process, visit the SCC website atwww.scc.virginia.gov and click 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
Even if 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 organization for assistance. These may include the Attorney General’s Office, a local consumer protection office, Better Business Bureau, 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/.