FILE A CONSUMER COMPLAINT
Before filing a complaint with the Office of Consumer Protection (OCP), please take a few moments to read the following:
If you believe you have been the victim of an unfair or deceptive business practice, the first step is to contact the business. Many problems can be resolved quickly with a letter or telephone call.
However, if you are not satisfied after contacting the business and are unable to resolve the complaint, use one of the links below to file a complaint. Some examples of complaints handled by OCP are:
- Unfair acts by a business: contract disputes, construction, debt collection, credit card issues, and billing disputes
- Advertising issues: deceptive, misleading, bait and switch, false claims
- Problems with new and used cars or trucks: lemon law, repairs, towing, or warranty issues
- Telemarketing, phone solicitation, door-to-door sales and Do Not Call Registry
- False or fake winning lottery/sweepstake notifications
- Disputes with cellular phone, internet and satellite television companies
The complaint should include the name and address of the business, with a detailed explanation of what the problem is, and what you have done. Copies of relevant documents such as receipts, warranties, cancelled checks, contracts, etc. should either be uploaded with the online complaint, or mailed with the form complaint. Mail the original complaint with copies of your documentation: do not send originals with your complaint.
(If you unsure if the Office of Consumer Protection is the correct agency, please review our Helpful Agencies and Resources section for other agencies and resources that may be helpful in assisting with your problem. You may also call the Office of Consumer Protection at (406) 444-4500 or (800) 481-6896.)
TWO WAYS TO FILE A CONSUMER COMPLAINT
Upon receipt of your consumer complaint, OCP’s investigators will evaluate the complaint and documentation. If OCP needs more information, you will be contacted. If you need to provide additional information, please do so in writing.
If it is determined that OCP has authority over your complaint, the investigator will send a letter to the business, along with your complaint, to give the business an opportunity to document its position and to resolve the problem if possible.
If it is determined that there was not a violation of the Consumer Protection Act or the complaint is not handled by OCP, you may be referred to another agency. Often another state, federal or local agency may specialize in, or have legal responsibility for, a particular consumer problem. In such a case, OCP will refer the complaint to the agency best able to help.
The Office of Consumer Protection will keep your complaint on file so that we can monitor illegal practices in the marketplace.
If your complaint involves credit card purchases – In a credit card purchase dispute, the card issuer may credit your account and charge the item back to the business, if you follow these steps:
- Write to your credit card issuer at the address for “errors or inquiries” given on your billing statement.
- Include vital information such as your name and account number, the date and amount of the disputed transaction and the business name and address.
- Describe the dispute. Explain in detail actions you have taken in good faith to resolve the complaint and why you feel the business should not be paid.
- Send photocopies of any papers or other documents you believe relate to the transaction. Do not send originals.
The business must then try to collect the disputed amount directly from you. You, or your attorney if you have one, may wish to consult the federal “Truth-in-Lending” regulations (12 CFR 226.12 and 12 CFR 226.13).
If the company has filed for bankruptcy – In some rare instances, consumers may recover some of their money if the company has filed bankruptcy. To have any chance of recovery, you must file a “proof of claim.” Obtain a claim form from the clerk of the Federal District Court in which the business has filed for bankruptcy, fill it out and return it to the clerk. Bankruptcy cases can be very complex, so you may want to hire an attorney to help you, especially if your claim is large.
If the company has moved or gone out of business – Perhaps the most frustrating consumer complaint is one against a company that is out of business.
- Try to contact the company directly first with a certified letter.
- If the certified letter goes unanswered and there is no way to contact the company, you can file a dispute with your credit card company if that was your method of payment. To be eligible under the Fair Credit Billing Act, you must file the dispute within 60 days of the transaction.
- If that does not work and you are owed a large amount of money, consider contacting a private attorney. You may also contact this office.
If your complaint is against a government agency – If your complaint is with a government agency rather than a business, contact the elected officials with authority over that agency. For example, if it is a federal agency, contact your U.S. representative or senator. For a local agency, contact a city or county official. You may also call the Montana Citizen’s Advocate Office at (406) 444-3468 or (800) 332-2272.