Who We Are
Having knowledgeable consumers is South Dakota's first line of defense against fraud and deception.
The Division of Consumer Protection is your resource for important consumer information. We have strengthened our laws and have dedicated resources to guard against scam artists seeking to take advantage of South Dakotans. We encourage you to contact us before you act on what appears to be a good deal or an urgent call requiring your immediate attention. These offers are sometimes designed to take your hard earned funds.
Whether you feel like you have been scammed by a business or you are just confused by a bill you received, we are here to help. Our Investigators are here to help mediate and find a resolution to your consumer complaints.
The South Dakota Division of Consumer Protection consists of an Assistant Attorney General, a Director, five Investigators, and one Complaint Intake Specialist, all of whom work under the direction of the South Dakota Attorney General.
Major responsibilities of the Division of Consumer Protection:
- Investigate false, misleading, or deceptive trade practices
- Enforce consumer laws designed to protect the public and legitimate business community
- Advise consumers of their basic rights under consumer laws
- Distribute consumer education materials
- Assist in the preparation of legislation designed to protect consumers
- Participate in mulit-jurisdictional actions with other state and federal law enforcement agencies
- Advise consumers of complaints on file against specific companies
It is not only your right to complain to a business when you have a consumer problem; it is also your responsibility. Complaining is never easy, but is sometimes necessary. To help resolve consumer frustrations, the following recommendations are offered for your assistance:
- Take your complaint to the company where you purchased the product or service. Very often they can resolve your problem in a timely fashion.
- If the first person you contact does not resolve your problem, ask to see the supervisor or manager.
- Ask for the name and job title of all persons you speak with regarding your complaint. Make sure to keep a writen record of this type of information, just in case you need to take further action at a later time.
- Allow the company time to resolve your complaint. If there is no response, write a letter to the company president or customer service department. Save copies of all correspondence and mail your letter to the company via certified mail to confirm delivery.
- If your contact with a local business is not successful, you may have to contact a regional or national office to get results.
- When writing to a company, be as specific as possible. Write down what created the problem, who you have talked to already, when the problem occurred and the location at which the issue began.
If, after a reasonable length of time, you haven't received a satisfactory response to a complaint, you may need to file a complaint with the Division of Consumer Protection. Make sure you have copies of bills, contracts, canceled checks, warranties and correspondence you have sent or received regarding the problem.
Whether you download the consumer complaint form or fill out the online complaint form, please make sure to keep copies of your completed form and copies of any relevant documents. If you would like a form mailed to you, please call 1-800-300-1986 (in-state) or 1-605-773-6585 for the hearing impaired.
Once we receive your complaint, the following steps are taken:
- An investigator reviews your complaint.
- Occasionally, a complaint is referred to another agency that can better handle the problem.
- Generally, both you and the business are contacted for further information. The business is given 20 days to reply or resolve the complaint. The consumer is kept informed of developments throughout the process.
- The Division of Consumer Protection may begin an investigation or mediation between you and the business.
- Complaints may require private legal action by the consumer. Information on Small Claims Court or retaining a private attorney is provided through our office. Consumers should always consider private legal assistance to protect their legal rights.
Your complaint will be kept in our files and will aid in determining the need for further action by our office. Your time in submitting this information is appreciated, and we hope our office can aid in resolving your complaint.
The law can provide only so much protection. The rest is up to you. Know your rights ahead of time. Wise buying can prevent consumer problems. Remember that the best consumer protection against fraud is an alert, informed consumer.
Taking Legal Action
If you decide that taking action on your own behalf, you can sue in small claims court for damages up to $12,000.00
The small claims court is an informal court which allows people to sue for small losses of money or property. The procedures are simple enough so that an individual can file and handle his own claim in court. Information on this website will explain how to bring about a small claims suit: http://ujs.sd.gov/uploads/pubs/small_claims_brochure.pdf
The parties (plaintiff and defendant) of the action must be at least 18 years old. If one of the parties is under the age of 18, his parent or guardian must represent him in the action. If there are a number of plaintiffs bringing action against one defendant, one of the plaintiffs may be authorized to act for all of them. A corporation may be represented by one of its officers, and a collection agency may act for a client who has made proper assignment of a debt.
This website is for informational purposes and should not be construed as legal advice or as a policy of the South Dakota Attorney General. If you need advice on a particular issue, you should consult a private attorney or other experts.