How Can We Help?
The Minnesota Attorney General’s Office appreciates hearing from members of the public. In many cases, we are able to provide direct assistance to people. Hearing from members of the public also alerts us to problems occurring in the marketplace. More information on the ways in which the Attorney General’s Office tries to help people include:
Consumer Assistance Hotline
The Attorney General’s Office is often able to answer questions over the phone or talk through a problem to determine whether a written complaint should be filed with the Office. You may contact the Attorney General’s Office by phone between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. as follows:
Office of Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson
(651) 296-3353 (Twin Cities Calling Area) or (800) 657-3787 (Outside the Twin Cities)
TTY: (651) 297-7206 or TTY: (800) 366-4812
Direct Assistance to Consumers
In some cases, the Attorney General’s Office is able to help people resolve problems with a business by contacting the organization. We call this process “mediation.” While the mediation process often results in successful outcomes, it should be noted that we do not license businesses and cannot simply order a business to take a particular course of action in a given matter. If you have experienced a problem, we want to hear from you. For more information on filing a written complaint with the Attorney General’s Office, see the webpage Consumer Complaints.
Assistance in Locating Other Government Agencies
In some cases, the Attorney General’s Office is able to assist people in locating other government agencies that may be able to help address (or should be alerted to) a problem. For example, some businesses (such as banks, insurance companies, HMOs, debt collection agencies, car dealers, and many others) are licensed by other government agencies. In some cases, a licensing agency may be able to take disciplinary action against a company’s license or suspend the company’s authority to operate. For these reasons, we often recommend that people also contact other government agencies. More information on some of these government agencies can be found on the Government Resources webpage.
Enforcement of Criminal Laws
The Minnesota Legislature has designated the county attorney as the official with authority to prosecute crimes in Minnesota and has designated the local police or sheriff’s department as the agency with the authority to investigate alleged criminal violations. In addition, other federal criminal agencies, such as the FBI, U.S. Attorney, U.S. Postal Inspector, etc., have authority to investigate violations of various federal criminal laws. If you believe that your problem involves a crime that should be investigated and/or prosecuted, we encourage you to contact those agencies. Contact information for county attorney and sheriff offices in Minnesota is available on the Government Resources webpage.
We Cannot Give Legal Advice to Individuals
The Minnesota Attorney General’s Office is not authorized to give specific legal advice to individuals or act on behalf of individuals in private legal matters. If you feel you need legal advice and want an attorney to advise you, the Minnesota State Bar Association's Attorney Referral Service is available on the Internet at www.mnfindalawyer.com. A flyer called Hiring an Attorney is also available on the Attorney General's website, which provides tips on locating and retaining an attorney.