I've Been Cheated! What Do I Do Now?
When you have been wronged or cheated by someone, there is a number of public agencies available and willing to help! You may wish to keep this column, which I update annually, for future reference. If you have been cheated by a retail store or service provider, and you have not obtained satisfaction after providing the opportunity, carefully set forth your complaint in writing to the store or provider and send copies of your letter to the appropriate local or state agencies.
Does your concern pertain to AUTOMOTIVE REPAIR? Send a copy of your letter to the Bureau of Consumer Affairs, Bureau of Automotive Repair at 10240 Systems Parkway, Sacramento, CA 95827 (916) 255-4565. The Bureau will refer your matter to the appropriate field office. Visit the website of the Bureau of Automotive Repair at www.smogcheck.ca.gov.
If you believe your MEDICAL DOCTOR has committed malpractice or engaged in impropriety, contact the Central Complaint Unit of the Medical Board of California, 1426 Howe Avenue, Suite 54, Sacramento, CA 95825-3236 (800) 633-2322. For information regarding a doctor's license or to determine if any disciplinary actions or accusations have been filed, call the Consumer Information Unit at (916) 263-2382. Visit the website of the Medical Board at www.medbd.ca.gov. If your concern pertains to a DENTIST, contact the Dental Board of California, 1432 Howe Avenue, Suite 85, Sacramento, CA 95825 (916) 263-2300. This Board does not presently maintain its own website, but does provide information on the website of the Department of Consumer Affairs at www.dca.ca.gov.
Does your problem concern HOME IMPROVEMENTS, contact the Contractor's State License Board at (800) 321-2752, for the appropriate complaint forms. The Board agent taking your call will advise you of the correct branch office of the Board to which your complaint form should be directed. Visit the website of the Contractor’s State License Board at www.cslb.ca.gov.
Complaints pertaining to INSURANCE should be directed to the California Department of Insurance Consumer Hotline (213) 897-8921, or if outside of Los Angeles, call (800) 927-4357, or write to the California Department of Insurance, Consumer Communications Bureau, 300 S. Spring Street, 9th Floor, South Tower, Los Angeles, CA 90013. Visit the Department of Insurance website at www.insurance.ca.gov.
Concerns pertaining to a LENDING OR FINANCE COMPANY or problem related to FRANCHISES should be directed to the California Department of Corporations (213) 576_7500, 320 West Fourth Street, Los Angeles, CA 90013. Visit the website of the Department of Corporations at www.corp.ca.gov.
If your complaint pertains to a STOCKBROKER, contact the Consumer Affairs Department of the Securities and Exchange Commission, 5670 Wilshire Blvd., 11th Floor, Los Angeles, CA 90036 (323) 965-3849. Complaints with the SEC must be filed in duplicate. You may also contact the National Association of Securities Dealers, 1735 K Street N.W., Washington, D.C. 20006 (800) 289-9999, or at 300 S. Grand Avenue, Suite 1600, Los Angeles, California 90071 (213) 627-2122. Complaints with the SEC must be filed in duplicate.
Do you have a complaint regarding a LONG DISTANCE TELEPHONE CARRIER? If the charges arise out of intrastate communication (within the State of California), contact the Consumer Affairs Branch, Public Utilities Commission, 505 Van Ness Avenue, San Francisco, California 94102, (800) 649-7570. If the charges arise out of interstate communication, direct your complaint to Consumer Center, Federal Communications Commission, 445 12th Street S.W., Washington, D.C. 20554, (888) 225-5322.
State law limits the manner in which a COLLECTION AGENCY can go about its business. At one time, there was a state agency that supervised the activities of collection agencies; however, the agency no longer exists. An attorney should be contacted to assist in this area. You should be aware, however, that the California Civil Code prohibits a debt collector from making certain threats, engaging in practices of harassment, and undertaking certain communication with others regarding consumer debt.
Local prosecutorial agencies customarily maintain a CONSUMER FRAUD unit and can be of great assistance. Contact the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office, Consumer Protection Division, 201 N. Figueroa Street, Suite 1600, Los Angeles, CA 90012 (213) 580-3273 or the Los Angeles City Attorney's Office, Consumer Protection Section, 1600 City Hall East, 200 N. Main Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012 (213) 485-4515. The State of California also maintains a consumer fraud unit within the Office of Attorney General, Public Inquiry Unit, P.O. Box 944255, Sacramento, CA 94244-2550 (800) 952-5225. The website of the Attorney General can be visited at www.caag.state.ca.us.
A federal agency which frequently addresses CONSUMER FRAUD (Fair Credit) matters is the Federal Trade Commission, 10877 Wilshire Boulevard, Suite 700, Los Angeles, CA 90024 or Federal Trade Commission, 901 Market Street, Suite 570, San Francisco, CA 94103 (877) FTC HELP or (877) 382-4357.
ACCOUNTANTS are subject to the supervision of the Board of Accountancy, 2000 Evergreen Street, Suite 250, Sacramento, CA 95815-3832 (916) 263-3680. Although the Board of Accountancy does not presently maintain its own website, information regarding the is Board can be obtained by visiting the website of the Department of Consumer Affairs at www.dca.ca.gov.
The conduct of ATTORNEYS is governed by the State Bar of California, 1149 South Hill Street, 4th Floor, Los Angeles, CA 90015_2299 (213) 765-1000 or 180 Howard Street, San Francisco, CA 94105-1639 (415) 538-2000. Information regarding attorneys can be found by visiting the website of the State Bar at www.calsb.org.
The California Department of Consumer Affairs maintains a number of boards, committees and commissions governing the conduct of providers of goods and services to consumers. If this article has not mentioned an agency with which you might want to be in contact, contact the Consumer Information Center of the Department of Consumer Affairs, 400 R Street, Suite 1080, Sacramento, CA 95814 (916) 445-3758 or (800) 952-5210. The website for the Department of Consumer Affairs is www.dca.ca.gov.