For some Pennsylvanians, the Office of Attorney General's Public Protection Division is the first place to go for guidance; and for others, it's their last resort for getting help. Among its many responsibilities, the division works to uphold the rights of consumers in business and service transactions and to protect the civil rights of citizens. The Public Protection Division also keeps watch over charitable solicitations, nonprofits, trusts and estates, and suspected violations of Federal antitrust laws. It protects you through the following sections.
The Antitrust Section helps protect the free enterprise system by detecting antitrust competitive practices and taking legal action to stop them. This section is located in Harrisburg.
Bureau of Consumer Protection
The Bureau of Consumer Protection (BCP) investigates and mediates consumer complaints. By law, BCP cannot act as your attorney, but if there are a number of complaints against the same business and it would benefit the Commonwealth, the Attorney General may take legal action. Believe you are being unfairly or illegally treated by a business? If you are unable to resolve the problem yourself, you can file a complaint with BCP. Just complete and submit the Online Complaint Form, or print, complete and mail the PDF Complaint Form. The Bureau of Consumer Protection has offices located in Harrisburg, Philadelphia, Allentown, Scranton, Erie, Pittsburgh and Ebensburg.
The Health Care Section
The Health Care Section focuses on protecting the public from unfair health care practices and helping shape Pennsylvania?s policies in favor of the consumer. Those who believe they are unfairly denied medical treatment by Health Maintenance Organizations, managed care or other health insurers can receive help by filing a complaint with the Attorney General?s Health Care Section. Among the first of its kind in the nation, the Health Care Section helps Pennsylvanians get around the barriers to secure the treatment they need. The Health Care Section is located in Harrisburg.
Charitable Trusts and Organizations Section
Making certain that charities legally raise and spend donations is the just a part of the work of The Charitable Trusts and Organizations Section. This section also protects the public?s interest by overseeing nonprofit corporations, their mergers and acquisitions, checks up on the actions of executors and trustees in wills and trusts containing charitable gifts. Attorneys in the Charitable Trusts and Organizations Section are also available to conduct seminars for the public on charities. This section has offices located in Harrisburg, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.
Civil Rights Enforcement Section
Are you being discriminated against because of your race, religion or gender? The Civil Rights Enforcement Section takes the lead handling investigations and complaints of Civil Rights violations. Their efforts may lead to legal action or a referral to the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission, Federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or other government agencies. This section is located in Harrisburg.
Tobacco Enforcement Section
The Tobacco Enforcement Section of the Public Protection Division was designed to promote the health of Pennsylvania citizens by working to decrease the incidence of smoking throughout the Commonwealth. The $206 billion Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) with the Tobacco Industry has given rise to legal issues that the Tobacco Enforcement Section will handle. Primary roles of the newly formed section include monitoring compliance with the payment provisions in the MSA; enforcing restrictions placed upon the Tobacco Industry in the areas of marketing, advertising, promotions, and sponsorship; working to make current laws dealing with tobacco issues work more effectively; and defending the MSA and other tobacco legislation against court challenges. This section is located in Harrisburg.
Office of Consumer Advocate
Shopping for a new electric company or want to sit in on the next public utility hearing? The Office of Consumer Advocate represents consumers in utility rate and service cases. While the Attorney General appoints the consumer advocate subject to the approval of the Senate of Pennsylvania, its staff and budget are separate from the office of Attorney General. This office is located in Harrisburg.