9830 Patuxent Woods Drive
Columbia, MD 21046
9830 Patuxent Woods Drive
The Office of Consumer Protection attempts to informally resolve disputes between consumers and merchants through mediation. The mediation process begins when a consumer files a complaint with our office.
To file a complaint, use our online complaint form or write a letter describing your dispute and the relief you are seeking. Mail your complaint, along with copies of any relevant documents (such as receipts, contracts or correspondence) to Howard County Office of Consumer Protection, 9830 Patuxent Woods Drive, Columbia, MD 21046 or e-mail to [email protected].
Upon receipt, complaints are assigned to investigators who read the complaints and accompanying documents. Investigators will contact complainants to discuss the complaint, ask questions or to request any additional documents that are needed. Investigators will then inform the merchant of the complaint and request the merchant’s response.
During mediation, investigators do not prejudge the validity of a consumer complaint. Rather, they will request that the merchant provide its side of the dispute and attempt to reach a fair resolution that is acceptable to both parties. They will also use their knowledge of federal, state and local consumer protection laws to ensure that any resolution is in keeping with the requirements of those laws.
Protect yourself and your loved ones by learning more about identity theft, fraudulent or unfair practices, and common scams, including those related to Covid-19. Consumer tip sheets help people understand their consumer rights and make well-informed decisions about purchasing goods and services, charitable giving, landlord tenant issues and more.
The Office of Consumer Protection (OCP) is created and governed by Sections 17.400 to 413 of the Howard County Code which empowers the Office to:
The following remedies and penalties may be obtained from persons found to have violated the County’s Consumer Protection Laws:
Consumers also have the right to pursue private legal actions in court for violations of consumer protection laws to recover actual damages, and, at the court's discretion, punitive damages, equitable relief and reasonable attorney's fees and costs.
Korean-speaking residents can more easily access the Office of Consumer Protection (OCP) through the help of League of Korean Americans (LoKA) volunteers on Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.; call 410-313-3820 for assistance. LoKA volunteers will:
The Office assists both tenants and landlords in Howard County who have questions or problems involving rental housing.
The Office of Consumer Protection is responsible for licensing and regulating companies that tow vehicles from private property without the permission of the owner of the vehicle. Howard County Code Sections 17.600 - 17.611, commonly referred to as the "Trespass Tow Law," sets forth the licensing and operation requirements that trespass tow companies must follow.
The Office of Consumer Protection (OCP) works to educate and alert Howard County residents about scams. Our scam alerts page provides examples of and information on current and ongoing scams.
Contact our office to report suspicious telephone calls, texts, email, letters or visits you received, that did not result in a loss of money or disclosure of personal information. You may also report this information to the FTC.
If you have lost money as a result of a scam or fraud, report this crime to the Howard County Police Department. If you also provided personal information as the result of a scam, the FTC’s Identity Theft website has step-by-step instructions on what to do next.
The Consumer Protection Advisory Board works with the Office of Consumer Protection (OCP) to educate and protect Howard County consumers. Board members provide feedback and recommendations on OCP's programs, alert OCP to problems and concerns they witness in their communities and assist in educating county residents on the services that OCP provides. The Board submits an annual report on OCP to the County Executive and County Council. The Consumer Protection Advisory Board is governed by Section 17.402 of the Howard County Code.
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