S.C. Code Regs. 28-4 - Method of Operations
A. Functional Areas: The Department of Consumer Affairs is divided into six functional divisions. These are Administration, Consumer Services, Consumer Advocacy, Public Information and Education, Identity Theft Unit and Legal.
(1) Administration: The Administration Division is responsible for providing administrative support to the Department of Consumer Affairs, including procurement, human resources, accounting and information technology. The Administrator position, the officer appointed by the Commission on Consumer Affairs to administer Title 37 and other statutes falling within the Department's authority and otherwise manage the day to day operations of the agency, is located in this Division.
(2) Consumer Services: The Consumer Services Division is responsible for handling consumer complaints. Consumer complaint analysts receive, evaluate and process complaints arising out of the production, promotion or sale of consumer goods or services. Complaints that fall within the jurisdiction of another state or federal agency are referred to such agency. Analysts engage in voluntary complaint mediation of complaints not subject to the jurisdiction of any responsible agency.
(3) Consumer Advocacy: The Consumer Advocacy Division is responsible for evaluating rate and other requests submitted to various regulatory agencies, recommending intervention to the Consumer Advocate, preparing the presentation of the consuming public's case and representing the public in hearings and in court as appropriate. The Division is also responsible for monitoring regulations of regulatory agencies, reporting on their findings and evaluation of the impact of such regulations on the public, and responding to requests for legislative assistance.
(4) Public Information and Education: The Public Information and Education Division is the main education portal for businesses and consumers. Communications staff are responsible for coordinating, developing and implementing agency outreach programs, for disseminating information on consumer credit laws, protection, and advocacy matters to the news media and the general public.
(5) Identity Theft Unit: The Identity Theft Unit provides education and outreach to consumers on how to deter, detect, and defend against identity theft. Staff assists consumers in mitigating instances of identity theft and provides education to businesses and agencies on complying with state identity theft laws and enforces such statutes.
(6) Legal: The Legal Division is responsible for maintaining a constant review of consumer protection law and formulating recommendations for legislative proposals. It is also responsible for providing legal advice and information to the Divisions of the Department of Consumer Affairs, for rule-making and investigations. It monitors rules, regulations, and interpretations of other Code state administrators and of appropriate Federal agencies and formulates appropriate rules, regulations, declaratory rulings and other interpretations of law. This Division is also responsible for conducting litigation and administrative enforcement actions under the provisions of the South Carolina Consumer Protection Code and other statutes enforced by the Department.
B. Public Access: The public has access to the Department of Consumer Affairs in three ways. These are through the complaint procedures, the information procedures and the formal rule-making and petition procedures.
(1) The public has access to the Department through the complaint procedure by virtue of an online complaint system, a statewide toll-free WATS line, or by utilization of the regular telephone network of the Department. Telephone numbers for the WATS line and the regular system are published in the news media and other appropriate informational sources at regular intervals. Informal complaints may also be submitted to the Department in writing either utilizing the Department's regular complaint form or in an appropriate letter or other writing.
(2) Requests for information may be made to the Public Information and Education Division. Any final order, decision, opinion, rule, regulation, written statement of policy or interpretation formulated, adopted or used by the Administrator on the discharge of his functions or any other matter to which the public has access by virtue of the Freedom of Information Act may be inspected at the Office of the Administrator at any reasonable time, during normal office hours. Voluminous requests or requests for material two years old or older may result in a longer response time for retrieval, copying or sorting. Reasonable charges may be imposed to recover expenses of materials and time for retrieval, copying or sorting of information.
(3) All requests for information which require an answer in the nature of an interpretation, statement of official policy or position of the Department must be submitted in writing.
(4) Submissions or suggestions designed to improve the operation of the Department of Consumer Affairs should be submitted in writing to the Office of Administrator of Consumer Affairs, without regard to the division or activity to which they may pertain.
(5) Requests for publications which may from time to time be issued by the Department should be addressed to the Public Information and Education Division. Reasonable charges may be imposed to recover expenses of materials and time for retrieval, copying or sorting of publications.
(6) Requests, submissions or any other communication of any nature may be made in writing to the Office of the Administrator of Consumer Affairs.
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