By: Chris Allen, Meghan Stoppel, and Ann-Marie Luciano
The National Association of Attorneys General’s biennial Consumer Protection Conference always provides a fascinating deep dive into the minds and priorities of state attorney general consumer protection staff, and of the leaders who run the day-to-day investigations and litigations that most directly impact companies. The May 24, 2022 meeting in Raleigh, North Carolina, attended by representatives from 42 states, DC, and four territories, was no exception.
The third panel was comprised of consumer protection chiefs from Florida, Illinois, North Carolina, Ohio and Vermont. It provided a brief glimpse into the most common complaints received by their respective offices, and how those complaints are mediated by their staff. In 2021, the most common complaints included:
- motor vehicle complaints;
- home improvement complaints (or complaints against contractors); and
- complaints involving credit, debt collection or financial services.
Consumer Education is Vital
Panelists from both large and small state AGs offices spoke about the importance of consumer education, both for preventing consumer scams and for helping consumers understand their rights in specific transactions (e.g. automobile purchases). In some states, the panelists admitted to using consumer education as a strategic method for managing complaint volume and stretching already-limited resources.
While praising their respective staff members for adeptly handling these complaints, the consumer chiefs acknowledged that cooperation from the business community is crucial (and appreciated) when it comes to addressing the issues brought to the AGs’ attention through the complaint process. The panelists unanimously advised businesses that receive these complaints from an AG’s office to respond promptly and to actively participate in the mediation process.
To read about the other panels at the 2022 NAAG Spring Consumer Protection Conference, go here: