Consumer Protection (Civil) Unit

Overview

 

The Consumer Protection Unit investigates and prosecutes cases such as deceptive advertising, unfair competition, and other forms of consumer fraudWe look for a pattern and practice of unlawful and unfair business activities, and where appropriate, institute civil or criminal enforcement actions.

The District Attorney’s Office is not authorized to represent individual private citizens seeking the return of money or other personal civil remedies. We are prohibited from providing legal advice. We review each complaint to determine the nature of the violation. We may send a copy of the complaint to the business or other party that is the subject to the complaint and request a response. In addition, some complaints may be referred to a police department or regulatory agency for further investigation. Once we have sufficient information, we determine if further enforcement action by the District Attorney’s Office is warranted. If not, we may direct the consumer to the appropriate agency to contact or to consult with a private attorney or file a small claims action. 

Although most cases are developed through law enforcement investigations, the consumer protection unit reviews complaints received directly from consumers.

  

How to File a Complaint

 

All consumer complaints must be submitted in writing.  Copies of advertisements, contracts, receipts, checks, correspondence, photographs, and any other relevant documents should be included with the complaint form. Do not send us original documents. If your written complaint requires additional pages, please attach those to the complaint form. A complaint form may be downloaded using the link below:

 

Complaint Form (English)                                   Forma de Queja (Spanish)

If you have questions regarding your complaint or the complaint process, you may contact us at (925) 957-8608 or by email at [email protected]. We will review your complaint to determine whether we are the appropriate agency to investigate the matter, and, if appropriate, will request you to complete a complaint form.

 

This office normally cannot act on every problem relating to the quality of products, services rendered, or work performed, but we welcome all complaints to let us know what problems exist in our community and if a particular problem is affecting a substantial segment of the public. All complaints will be reviewed by a Deputy District Attorney. Not all complaints are investigated.

 

Frequently Asked Questions


Below are responses to common questions the Consumer Protection Unit receives.  If you would like to discuss a specific consumer issue that is not addressed below, please email us at [email protected] or call (925) 957-8608.

 

  • How do I file a complaint against a company or individual?                   

A consumer complaint form must be completed and submitted to the Consumer Protection Unit. The form is available here or by calling (925) 957-8604 to obtain a copy by mail. Although we are happy to explain the complaint process to you on the phone, we do not accept telephonic complaints. 

The completed form can be submitted by email to [email protected] or by mailing to:

Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office

Consumer Protection Unit

900 Ward Street

Martinez, CA 94553

 

The Consumer Unit does not conduct personal intake interviews or make appointments to accept the written complaint form.


  • Does it cost anything to file a complaint form?                                            

 

No.

 

 

The Consumer Protection Unit does not investigate complaints in which someone is seeking a private or personal remedy, does not represent individual complainants, and does not offer legal advice.

 

We suggest you consult with a private attorney who can answer legal questions, offer legal advice, and advocate on your behalf. Legal Services Referral information is available at the Contra Costa County Superior Court of California website at Legal Services Referral Listing: Contra Costa Superior Court (cc-courts.org)


  • Can the District Attorney's Office represent me in an action against someone who has defrauded me?                                                              

No. We are unable to represent private citizens seeking the return of their money or other personal remedies. Instead, we pursue both criminal and civil law enforcement actions in the name of the People of California.

We suggest you consult with a private attorney who can answer legal questions, offer legal advice, and advocate on your behalf. Legal Services Referral information is available at the Contra Costa County Superior Court of California website at Legal Services Referral Listing: Contra Costa Superior Court (cc-courts.org)


  • Where can a consumer get assistance with a small claims filing?             

For information regarding Small Claims Court, you may check the Contra Costa County Superior Court Small Claims Court: Contra Costa Superior Court (cc-courts.org) webpage or contact a small claims advisor at [email protected].  Since there are time requirements that apply to such matters, you should do so as soon as possible.

  • Where do I report a scam?                                                                                       

In situations where you have become a victim of a scam, you should report the incident to your local law enforcement agency.  Even when you are not a victim, you should report all scams to the Federal Trade Commission at ReportFraud.ftc.gov or by calling (877) 382-4357  and the Attorney General’s Office at  Protecting Consumers | State of California - Department of Justice - Office of the Attorney General or by calling (800) 952-5225.  These government agencies accept complaints regarding scams.

 

Online/Internet fraud should also be reported to the Federal Bureau of Investigation Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3).

 

If any personal or financial information was shared with the scammer(s), we suggest you take steps to protect against identity theft.

 

 

  • Someone is using my identity. What should I do?                              

If you are the victim of identity theft, you should contact your local law enforcement agency as soon as possible to make a police report. The report or report number is often necessary for reporting losses to banks and credit card companies. 

You should also complete an identity theft report with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at IdentityTheft.gov. This site provides step-by-step advice on additional steps to take to protect yourself and helpful resources for victims of identity theft.


 

  • I am thinking of remodeling my home and a neighbor recommended a contractor. How do I find out more information about this person and his or her company?                                                                                                                

Contractors are licensed through the Contractor's State Licensing Board (CSLB). Consult the CSLB for information on license status and other helpful tips before hiring a contractor. 


  • Where do I file a complaint against my contractor?                                                   

The California State Licensing Board (CSLB) regulates all licensed and unlicensed contractors in California. You can contact the CSLB at (800) 321-2752 or file a complaint on their website here Filing a Construction Complaint - CSLB (ca.gov).

  • Can I check on the license status of other professionals as well?           

Yes. Many professionals like doctors, chiropractors, veterinarians, auto mechanics, etc., must be licensed by the State of California. Most license verifications can be conducted online via the Department of Consumer Affairs website. 

 

  • I would like to make a complaint against my private attorney. Who is the best organization to reach out to?

The State Bar of California licenses and regulates attorneys and the practice of law in California.  You may contact them by telephone at (800) 843-9053 or on their website at Complaints & Claims (ca.gov).