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RULE §535.142Consumer Complaint Processing

(a) Not later than the 7th day after receipt of a signed, written complaint, Commission staff shall:

  (1) assign the complaint a case number in the complaint tracking system; and

  (2) send written acknowledgement of receipt to the complainant.

(b) Once a signed, written complaint has been filed with the Commission, the Commission has jurisdiction to consider, investigate, and take action based on the complaint. Complaints may be withdrawn only with the consent of the Commission.

(c) Not later than the 30th day after receiving a complaint, Commission staff will send written notice to the complainant of Commission staff's evaluation regarding the complaint. This evaluation may be that the case will be investigated or that the Commission lacks jurisdiction over the complaint.

(d) Dismissal of Complaints.

  (1) Commission staff will dismiss a complaint with no further processing if staff determines at any time that:

    (A) the complaint is:

      (i) not within the Commission's jurisdiction; or

      (ii) inappropriate or without merit;

    (B) no violation exists; or

    (C) there is insufficient evidence to prove a case at a hearing.

  (2) Commission staff will send written notice to the complainant and each respondent who has been notified of the complaint within 14 days after a complaint is dismissed under this subsection.

(e) Commission staff may request additional information from any person, if necessary, to determine how to proceed with the complaint.

  (1) When information is requested from a complainant, the complainant must respond within a reasonable time, or the complaint may be closed and no further action will be taken. If the complaint is closed under this subsection, Commission staff will send written notice to the complainant and to the respondent, if the respondent has been notified of the complaint.

  (2) When information, documents, books, or records are requested from a respondent, the respondent must respond within a reasonable time, or the failure to respond may violate §1101.652(a) or (a-1) of the Act.

  (3) For purposes of this section and §1101.652(a) and (a-1) of the Act, "a reasonable time" means 14 days from receipt of a request made by Commission staff.

  (4) Commission staff may agree to extend the time to respond for good cause upon receipt of a written request for more time from a complainant or respondent.

(f) If Commission staff determines that a complaint is within the Commission's jurisdiction, a copy of the complaint, including attachments, will be sent to the respondent.

(g) The Commission will protect the identity of a complainant to the extent possible by excluding the complainant's identifying information from a complaint notice sent to a respondent.

(h) Commission staff may assign a complaint to an investigator to conduct a field investigation or conduct an investigation by requesting a written response and documents. Absent good cause, a field investigation must be completed within six months after a complaint is opened.

(i) Commission staff will periodically send written notice to the complainant and each respondent of the status of the complaint until final disposition. For purposes of this subsection, "periodically" means at least once every 120 days.

(j) Commission staff may issue an advisory letter to a respondent when it determines that a warning is sufficient to deter certain conduct or when it seeks to educate a respondent about proper conduct to avoid a future violation.

(k) When Commission staff determines a violation exists, Commission staff may seek to resolve the case through an agreed order with the respondent.

(l) Absent good cause, a case that is not dismissed or resolved by an advisory letter or agreed order must be set for a hearing at the State Office of Administrative Hearings not later than one year after the complaint is filed with the Commission.

Source Note: The provisions of this §535.142 adopted to be effective May 28, 2019, 44 TexReg 2613; amended to be effective December 11, 2019, 44 TexReg 7709

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