Citations Affected: IC 4-6-9-4 ; IC 34-30-2-2.5.
Synopsis: Consumer protection. Allows the division of consumer
protection of the office of the attorney general to disclose certain
information in consumer complaints unless the disclosure would
endanger the consumer. Provides that the director of the division and
the attorney general have discretion whether to mediate de minimis
consumer complaints. Provides that neither the attorney general nor the
state is liable for the disclosure of information contained in a consumer
Effective: July 1, 2003.
January 15, 2003, read first time and referred to Committee on Commerce and Consumer
A BILL FOR AN ACT to amend the Indiana Code concerning state
offices and administration.
IS AMENDED TO READ AS FOLLOWS
[EFFECTIVE JULY 1, 2003]: Sec. 4. (a) The division has the
following powers and duties:
(1) The power to investigate any written consumer complaint made by a nonmerchant arising from a transaction between a merchant as defined in the Uniform Commercial Code and a nonmerchant concerning sales, leases, assignments, awards by chance, or other dispositions of goods, services, or repairs, and intangibles to a person for purposes that are primarily personal, familial, household, charitable, or agricultural, or a solicitation to supply any of the above things. When a consumer trades in or sells a motor vehicle to another consumer or nonconsumer, he shall be deemed to be a nonconsumer and shall be subject to the provisions of this chapter. The division shall have no jurisdiction over matters concerning utilities subject to regulation by the utility regulatory commission or by an agency of the United States except that the provisions of subdivision (5) shall apply and
except as provided in
(2) For complaints filed after August 31, 1984, and before July 1, 2003, the duty to ascertain from the consumer whether
consumer consents to public disclosure by the division of the
filing of the complaint, including his the consumer's identity and
telephone number, if any.
(3) The duty to notify the merchant of the nature of the complaint by written communication and request a written reply.
(4) Upon receipt of reply, the duty to act as mediator between the parties and attempt to resolve all complaints in a conciliatory manner. The director of the division and the attorney general have discretion whether to mediate complaints involving a de minimis amount of money.
(5) If no reply is received or if the parties are unable to resolve their differences, and no violation of federal or state statute or rule is indicated, the duty to provide the complainant with a copy of all correspondence relating to the matter.
(6) Whenever a violation of a state or federal law or administrative rule is indicated, the duty to forward to the appropriate state or federal agency a copy of the correspondence and request that the agency further investigate the complaint and report to the division upon the disposition of the complaint.
(7) The power to initiate and prosecute civil actions on behalf of the state whenever an agency to which a complaint has been forwarded fails to act upon the complaint within ten (10) working days after its referral, or whenever no state agency has jurisdiction over the subject matter of the complaint.
(8) For complaints filed after June 30, 2003, the duty to inform the consumer of the public disclosure of the information contained in the complaint other than the consumer's Social Security number.
(b) All complaints filed before July 1, 2003, and related correspondence in the possession of the division under this chapter are confidential unless disclosure of a complaint or correspondence is:
(1) requested by the person who filed the complaint;
(2) consented to, in whole or in part, after August 31, 1984, by the person who filed the complaint;
(3) in furtherance of an investigation by a law enforcement agency; or
(4) necessary for the filing of an action by the attorney general under IC 24-5-0.5.
(c) All complaints filed after June 30, 2003, and related
correspondence in the possession of the division under this chapter
are public information other than the consumer's Social Security
number. The division shall not disclose any information contained
in a complaint or related correspondence if the division determines
that disclosure of the information would endanger the consumer.
(d) Notwithstanding subsection (b), the division may publicly disclose information relating to the status of complaints filed before July 1, 2003, under subsection (a)(3), (a)(4), (a)(5), (a)(6), and (a)(7).
(e) Neither the attorney general nor the state is liable for the release under this section of any information contained in a consumer complaint.
SECTION 2. IC 34-30-2-2.5 IS ADDED TO THE INDIANA CODE AS A NEW SECTION TO READ AS FOLLOWS [EFFECTIVE JULY 1, 2003]: Sec. 2.5. IC 4-6-9-4 (Concerning the attorney general and the state for disclosure of information contained in a consumer complaint).