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Consumers' Frequently Asked Questions

How do I file a complaint against a business?
You can file a complaint with the Consumer Protection Division either online or by filling out and mailing a consumer complaint form. See File a Consumer Complaint. You can file a complaint in order to request that the Division mediate a problem between you and the business, or file a complaint just for the record. For additional information, call our hotline between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. at (410) 528-8662 or 1-888-743-0023 toll-free in Maryland.

If you have a health billing complaint, you can file a complaint with the the Division's Health Education and Advocacy Unit. For additional information, call the Health Advocacy hotline at (410) 528-1840 or 1-877-261-8807 toll-free in Maryland.

If I sign a contract to buy a car, do I have three days to change my mind and cancel the contract?
No. Many consumers mistakenly believe all contracts allow a 3-day cooling-off period to cancel. Generally, there's no cooling off period after you sign a contract. (In Maryland, only a few types of transactions, such as door-to-door sales contracts, allow you three business days to cancel.) However, if the dealer promised finance terms, such as a certain interest rate or monthly payment, and is unable to honor those terms, you can't be forced to accept other terms and may cancel the contract.

Is a store or business required to allow me to return an item, as long as I have the receipt?
Under Maryland law, stores must post their return policies on the wall, on the merchandise, or on your receipt. A store can refuse to accept returned merchandise if that is their posted policy. If the policy isn't posted, the store must accept returned merchandise within a reasonable time period. If an item is defective, the store must repair it, replace it or give you a refund, regardless of its regular refund policy.

How can I tell if a company is reliable?
We can't tell you if a company is reliable, but we can tell you if anyone has filed a complaint against the business and if so, how the complaint was resolved. Call the Consumer Protection Division's hotline at (410) 528-8662. A mediator will tell you how many complaints have been filed against the business, the nature of the complaints and how they were resolved.

You can also check to see if an individual or business is licensed with the state before they do business with you, at the Maryland Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing website.

How can I get telemarketers to stop calling me?
See our publication "How to Stop Telemarketing and Junk Mail" for some steps you can take to get off calling and mailing lists.

Is a doctor or hospital allowed to charge me if I request a copy of my medical records?
Although you have the right to the information contained in your medical records, the record itself belongs to the doctor and he can ask a fee to cover retrieval and photocopying. More information about requesting medical records.

Can a landlord evict me just by telling me to leave or else he will put my belongings on the street?
No, eviction is a legal procedure. To evict a tenant, a landlord must go to District Court to get a judgment against the tenant. If a landlord moves your belongings out of your home, changes the locks, or cuts off utilities without a court order, you should call the police and an attorney or legal services organization. More information about eviction.

What makes a car a "lemon"?
Maryland's lemon law applies to a car, light truck or motorcycles that is registered in Maryland and has been driven less than 18,000 miles and been owned less than 24 months and has:

  • A brake or steering failure that was not corrected after the first repair attempt, and that causes the vehicle to fail Maryland's safety inspection; or
  • Any one problem that substantially impairs the use and market value of the vehicle that was not corrected in four repair attempts; or
  • Any number of problems that substantially impair the use or market value of the vehicle that have caused it to be out of service for a cumulative total of 30 or more days. More information about Maryland's Lemon Law.

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Attorney General of Maryland 1 (888) 743-0023 toll-free / TDD: (410) 576-6372
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