INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – The Indiana Attorney General’s Office is urging Hoosiers to file a consumer complaint if they experienced bad business with a local company or lost money due to a scam.
As of Dec. 6, 2019, the AG’s office had received more than 8,500 consumer complaints. By the end of the year, they believe they will have more than 11,000 on file. They say that is on par with the amounts they saw in 2017 and 2018.
So far, the number one complaint appears to be about new and used car sales. This year, because central Indiana had a stormy spring, the department also saw an uptick in home improvement complaints.
“The file is typically sent to one of our four consumer mediators to see if they can mediate a resolution between the consumer and the business or individual/practitioner,” said Betsy DiNardi, director and chief counsel of the Consumer Protection Division.
Once the consumer mediator has reviewed the case, they will send a letter to the company involved asking for an explanation. The business owner has 15 days to respond.
“Once we have the response, we send that to the consumer and we ask, ‘OK, what do you think about this, what reaction do you have, what kind of response do you have?’ And we go back and forth a couple of times between the consumer and respondent to see if we can reach a resolution,” DiNardi said.
If a mediator cannot find a compromise or if the business does not respond to the letter, the mediator refers the case to the AG’s Consumer Litigation Division.
“We can get an injunction – an order from the court - that people need to stop doing certain behaviors in that business. We can get restitution, refunds for the consumer for money they may have lost, and then under the statute we’re permitted to get a civil penalty which would go to the state,” DiNardi said.
DiNardi said if several people have similar stories or complaints about the same business, they will investigate to see if there is a pattern or practice of bad behavior.
“There are also going to be businesses, just like there are in other states, where they really aren’t a reputable business and they are out to swindle people out of money or scam them, get money from people without doing any work,” DiNardi said.
The AG’s office said it is more likely to investigate companies that have lists of unhappy customers.
Hoosiers can file consumer complaints by mail or online. It is completely free. Find out how here: