If the Secretary of State opens up a Fair Business Practices Act violation against you, you will likely receive a Notice of Investigative Demand in the mail.
In this video, we discuss what that is and how to handle it.
Below is a transcript of the video:
In the last video on the Fair Business Practices Act, I touched on the consumer notice requirements, the O.C.G.A. – Official Code of Georgia Annotated Section 10-1-390 et seq., which requires the consumer to send a notice of demand to the dealer alerting them of what the violation is and making a specific demand to remedy that violation. Then I talked about the other entity that can pursue an FBPA claim, the state through the Secretary of State and the Office of Consumer Protection.
If that happens, the way the dealer finds out usually is through a notice of investigation or investigative demand. The Secretary of State’s investigative demand comes by certified mail usually, or some sort of trackable notice. I’ve even heard of it being served or hand-delivered before, but usually certified mail.
It will include in that demand a notice that an investigation has begun of a violation of the Fair Business Practices Act. It will include a subpoena for records that the Secretary of State is asking for the dealer to produce a certain amount of records or maybe all deal files over the last six months or the following 10 customer files. It could be anything. It depends on what they’re investigating. It will usually also include a date for the dealer to sit for a deposition where they will literally be interviewed by the Secretary of State regarding these allegations. It doesn’t always state the specific allegations and it will not state who made them. That is almost always kept confidential forever. The dealer is not going to find out through the Secretary of State who actually made the allegations.
That’s usually the beginning of a fairly lengthy process. My advice is that every dealer gets counsel if they’re being investigated by the Office of Consumer Protection. When I say get counsel, I mean, get an attorney, because these are lengthy proceedings. There’s a lot of heavy legal review, negotiation, and analysis that goes into these things.
No dealers should just go in blind to a Secretary of State investigation. That’s how they usually come through, an investigative notice of investigative demand with a list of documents they’re requesting and oftentimes information requests as well that open up the investigation.
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Secretary of State Investigative Demand