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Business Sudden Closure - Protect Yourself

Businesses sometimes close suddenly before customers have received the goods or services paid for. This can happen with both retailers and healthcare providers. What can consumers do?

Limit Your Financial Losses

Consumers who are awaiting a service or product from a business that suddenly closes should immediately determine their method of payment and act accordingly:

  • If a purchase was made with a credit card, contact the credit card company to dispute the charge. Request that any related charges be removed from the bill. Information on how to dispute a charge can be found in your monthly statement.
  • If payment was made by check, contact the bank and ask for a stop payment on the check in question.
  • If long-term financing was arranged, contact the finance company.  Dispute any payment for the goods or services that were not delivered.
  • If arrangements for automatic payments were made, contact that financial institution, and ask them to stop all future withdrawals from your bank account.
  • If an insurance plan was used for a personalized medical device, notify the insurance company.

File A Complaint

When a business suddenly closes its doors, consumers should act quickly to protect their rights.

  • Gather receipts, invoices, or bills that show what items were ordered. These items show what you paid and when delivery was promised.
  • Document all transactions. Keep any phone records and notes. These records show which company employees you spoke with and when.
  • Try to contact the company's headquarters or customer service line.
  • Use the company’s website to lodge a formal complaint with the company.
  • If a business is located out of state, also file a complaint with that state's Attorney General.
  • Finally, contact the Attorney General's Consumer Protection Team at 877-765-8388 or file an online Consumer Complaint.

Protect Your Privacy

If a business suddenly closes, that business is still required to protect your information. This includes user account data, personal financial information, and medical records.

  • Medical offices that close suddenly are subject to various state and federal laws, rules, and regulations. Those laws require healthcare providers and their associates to safeguard medical records. If you are a patient and your medical office suddenly closes, contact the office. Ask about the status of your records. You have the right to receive your own medical records or ask that they be sent to another provider.
  • If you are unable to reach a live person, contact the Attorney General's office. We will work with the company and the appropriate state licensing entity. We will facilitate the return of your medical records so you can obtain care from another provider.
  • If you are the owner of a small business that closes, be sure to speak with a private attorney. Your attorney can advise you on the steps you must take to safeguard customer records. Failing to do so may result in state or federal law enforcement actions.

Consider The Possibility Of A Business Closure Before Your Purchase

It is possible for businesses to suddenly close without any history of trouble. Consumers should take steps to limit any potential losses if something should happen to the business before goods or services are delivered.

Do Your Research

Limit Down Payments

  • If a downpayment is required for a purchase, limit the amount of money paid upfront.
  • If the item you are ordering cannot be delivered immediately, pay just enough up-front to secure the order.
  • Use a credit card instead of cash.  Credit card charges can be disputed and reversed for goods or services that have not been delivered. Consumers are limited to a 60-day window from date of purchase for credit card disputes.
  • Make sure your receipt or invoice lists exactly what you have ordered. This should include the brand name, model number, color, size, and other details. It should also list all advance payments.
  • Some contracts provide for services over a period of time. This includes services like lawn care and gym memberships. Ask to make monthly payments rather than full-payment for the entire contract term.

Problems can appear in multiple forms. Some of the most common problems include missed delivery dates, requests for extra money before delivery, and changing stories about delivery delays. Swift action can mean the difference between holding a refund and holding the bag.

Report Fraud

If you believe you have been the victim of card fraud, you can contact the Department of Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Team, which can be reached at:

Consumer Protection Team 
P.O. Box 30213 
Lansing, MI 48909 
517-335-7599 
Fax: 517-241-3771
Toll-free: 877-765-8388
Online complaint form