You Paid For It: Consumer Affairs services

You Paid For It: Consumer Affairs services

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Consumer watchdogs make up a very small part of our state budget, but a department accountability report shows those services are paying off for consumers in the end.

The Department of Consumer Affairs was established 45 years ago in South Carolina and tasked with protecting state consumers.

Last year, the department’s budget was about $3.5 million, which is just a small piece of the state’s overall $29 billion budget of state and federal funds.

The DCA has battled budget cuts in past years, as it noted in its annual accountability report.

“Overall, the agency’s outcome of credits, refunds and adjustments for FY18 through efforts in complaint mediation, enforcement and intervention in insurance rate filings exceeded $7 million,” the report said. “This number is double DCA’s total budget.”

DCA provides many resources consumers can take advantage of. Your tax dollars are funding those services, so it’s important to be familiar with them:

Check out recalls listed on the department’s website.

Deal with debt.

Learn about mortgages and fake vacation rentals.

Look up a company’s business license.

Get mediation services by filing a complaint about a business you’re having problems with. Read complaints other people filed.

Call for free help if you are a victim of a scam or identity theft.

The report said DCA enforces 120 consumer-related laws from cars to gyms to preened funeral services and pawnbrokers.

Recent changes to state law require the Department of Consumer Affairs to now also collect complaints against homeowners associations – HOAs.

Copyright 2019 WCSC. All rights reserved.