May 10, 2023
Consumer Advice Available When Needed from Office of Consumer Protection
Montgomery County residents who have felt deceived or taken advantage of during a business transaction can turn to the Montgomery County Office of Consumer Protection (OCP) for advice and assistance. OCP and its staff of experts on various matters can help explain complicated terms of a business transaction or get involved when a resident feels they are the victim of deceptive business practices, communication barriers or have experienced a situation when they were treated unfairly by a merchant who does not want to resolve the matter.
Spring is a time that brings out a regular trend of deceptive or fraudulent vendors, especially regarding work to be done around homes. OCP is prepared to help.
Residents can reach OCP by calling the County’s MC311 call service (dial 240-777-0311 or just 311 in the County) Monday through Friday, during their normal business hours (8:30 a.m.-5 p.m.). MC311 staff will direct requests for OCP services to the department—or to another County office that would best serve the resident’s needs, depending upon the issue.
OCP staff members will contact a resident in the method of their choosing (within two business days). They will listen to the circumstance, evaluate what may have happened and to advise the resident on options that could be followed.
"Sometimes, inquiry calls from consumers lead to formal complaints with our office, but if your issue is outside the scope of our authority, you can still feel confident that our investigators are giving you the very best advice for your situation," said Patricia Vitale, the OCP investigations administrator.
In addition to the MC311 system, consumers can find helpful information on OCP’s A-Z Consumer Advice website. The website features articles and information on a variety of topics, including automobile repairs, credit and debt, internet safety, sales and marketing, financial literacy, home ownership and shopping.
“If you have questions about time shares, immigration fraud or health clubs, look at the ‘Other’ topics tab and explore,” said Maurice Valentine, the OCP outreach and education manager. “The website provides a considerable number of topics, including providing a greater understanding of front foot benefit charges homeowners receive.”
For more information about how to reach the Office of Consumer Protection, go to https://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/OCP/index.html. If a resident prefers to contact OCP without calling MC311, they can send an email to email to email@example.com.