ATLANTA — A state agency designed to protect consumers from unfair and deceptive acts and practices by investigating consumer problems and monitoring the marketplace to promote fair and honest competition is touting its accomplishments and savings for Georgia consumers.
Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr says the Georgia Department of Law’s Consumer Protection Division generated more than $109 million for consumers and the State Treasury in fiscal year 2019.
“Keeping Georgia families safe is a top priority of my administration, and I applaud Attorney General Carr and the Consumer Protection Division for their dedicated work in exposing scams and predatory behavior out in the marketplace,” Gov. Brian Kemp said.
The Consumer Protection Division (CPD) takes action against violators and publishes consumer education materials and alert warnings.
“Our office takes seriously our role protecting consumers and ensuring businesses have a stable legal and regulatory environment that allows them to thrive,” Carr said.
The top complaints reported to CPD in FY19 included: used car sales, debt issues, auto repairs, landlord and tenant issues, home improvement or repairs, health issues, utilities, new car sales and insurance issues, the attorney general's office said. CPD reported $109,938,221 in savings and benefits to Georgia consumers and the state treasury in FY19.
A breakdown of the savings, from the attorney general's office, include:
- The Intake Division responded to nearly 17,000 consumer complaints and inquiries. Consumers were able to obtain $236,248 in benefits and savings.
- CPD administers and oversees all aspects of the Georgia Lemon Law, a self-help statute that protects new car buyers or lessees whose vehicles have recurring defects. If the manufacturer is unable to fix the problem, consumers may be eligible to get their defective vehicle replaced or repurchased. During FY19 consumers who filed under Georgia’s Lemon Law received over $29 million through vehicle repair, replacement or repurchase.
- In matters involving an alleged violation of the Georgia Fair Business Practices Act, the main statute that the division enforces, consumers received restitution and benefits totaling $49,873,804 during FY19.
- Through legal settlements and proceedings, the Department sent $30,828,169 for the State Treasury.
In addition, the division assisted 430,737 individuals in FY19 with its consumer education and outreach efforts, they said. These efforts include presentations across the state, distribution of educational literature, like the Georgia Consumer Protection Guide for Older Adults and the Georgia Military Consumer Protection Guide, and through its two dedicated web sites:
- Consumer.ga.gov, where you can file a complaint against a business, find information on a wide variety of consumer topics and read the division’s latest press releases.
- ConsumerEd.ga.gov, which helps consumers make wise decisions about their homes, cars, credit and finances and responds to consumer questions via the bi-weekly “Ask Consumer Ed” blog.
CPD is currently developing a cybersecurity guide designed to educate small-to-medium-sized businesses, houses of worship and non-profits on implementing best practices to protect sensitive consumer data. The guide is scheduled to be released this Summer.