File a Complaint
To file a complaint, use one of the online complaint forms below, or send a letter describing your dispute and the relief you seek, along with copies of relevant documents (such as receipts, contracts or correspondence) to the Howard County Office of Consumer Protection at 9830 Patuxent Woods Drive, Columbia, MD 21046, or email it to [email protected].
How are complaints evaluated?
The Office of Consumer Protection (OCP) is created and governed by Section 17.400 of the Howard County Code which empowers the Office to conduct investigations, mediate disputes, and take enforcement action as needed.
Upon receipt of a complaint, it is assigned to an investigator who reviews the complaints and accompanying documents, then contacts you to discuss the complaint, asks questions or requests any additional documents. The investigators will then forward a copy of the complaint to the merchant or landlord and request a response.
Investigators do not prejudge the validity of a complaint. Rather, they will request that the merchant provide its side of the dispute, collect records and information to understand the issues, 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.
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.
Residents more comfortable communicating in a language other than English can always ask for an interpreter to be provided by appointment. To make this process easier, the Office of Consumer Protection (OCP) has recruited volunteers to help with complaints, investigations, and licensing. These volunteers speak Korean, Mandarin, and Spanish. Complaint forms are also available above in Korean, Simplified Chinese, and Spanish.
If you need to speak with OCP in one of these languages, please call 410-313-3820. The outgoing message will prompt the caller to press a number for the correct extension. Our volunteers will:
- work with OCP staff to answer consumer and business questions
- translate consumer education materials and articles
- provide in-person or webinar programs