Government agencies in Texas are required to inform the public about the rights and responsibilities outlined in the Texas Public Information Act by posting in their offices a public information sign required by the Office of the Attorney General. This agency provides the following FAQ as an additional resource.
What is “public information”?
Public information is information that the Office of Consumer Credit Commissioner (OCCC) writes, produces, collects, assembles, or maintains under a law or ordinance or in connection with the transaction of official agency business. The term “open records” is also used to refer to public information documents. According to the Texas Public Information Act (TPIA), everyone is entitled to complete information about the affairs of government and the official acts of public officials and employees, unless that information is deemed confidential by law.
Under the TPIA, the OCCC is not required to create new data, perform legal research, or answer questions. For more information about the TPIA, see the Texas Attorney General's How to Request Public Information page.
How do I request public information from the OCCC?
There is no special form to fill out or special wording to use for Open Records requests. Simply put your request for information in writing to the attention of Public Information Officer, and mail, hand-deliver, fax, or e-mail it to the OCCC.
- U.S. Mail: Address your request to Office of Consumer Credit Commissioner, 2601 N. Lamar Blvd., Austin TX 78705.
- Hand delivery: Leave your request with the receptionist at our 2601 N. Lamar location between the hours of 8:00 a.m. to
5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.
- Fax: Our fax number is 512.936.7610.
- E-mail: Send your request via e-mail to the OCCC’s Public Information Officer: firstname.lastname@example.org.
To help ensure that you receive the information you want, include the following information in your Open Records request:
- Your name and mailing address (so that we can send you a response)
- Your phone number and e-mail address (so that we can contact you if we have questions about filling your request)
- A detailed list or description of the specific information you are seeking (the more specific you make your request, the better and faster we can meet your needs)
- Date ranges (if possible to narrow the scope of your request)
Texas law states that the OCCC cannot ask you why you need the information. However, we may ask you to clarify your request in order to determine the documents that pertain to your request, and to avoid sending you too much or too little information.
How is public information provided to me?
You have a few options here. If the documentation you seek is available electronically, and you would prefer it in that form, we can usually provide the information on a disk or send it to you via e-mail. If you wish to receive paper copies, we will send them to you via standard U.S. mail or via fax.
If you don’t need to receive copies but wish to merely view the information, please state that in your written request. When your request is received, the Public Information Officer will contact you to set an appointment for you to come to our office and view the documents. Any information that is confidential by law will be removed from the documents you view.
How long will it take for the OCCC to fill my request?
The Texas Public Information Act (TPIA) states that all governmental bodies, including the OCCC, must provide public information "promptly" and "without delay." The TPIA states that "promptly" means that the information should be provided within a reasonable time under the circumstances. Generally, the OCCC will respond or fill your request within 10 business days. We will also let you know if we do not have the information you seek.
You may face greater delays if you request information that is deemed confidential by law. If you ask for information that the OCCC believes is exempt from public disclosure, the OCCC will contact you to see if you are willing to exclude the confidential information, or will refer the request and the pertinent documents to the Texas Office of the Attorney General’s Open Records Division for a ruling about disclosure.
What happens if I request confidential information?
Some information contained in our records is made confidential by the Texas Public Information Act or other laws and statutes, such as the Texas Finance Code. The TPIA requires that we protect confidential information from disclosure. For a list of the confidential information usually contained in OCCC files, please click here.
In many cases, requestors ask for confidential material only inadvertently, such as when they request documents that contain other people’s private information (such as social security numbers or financial information). If you ask for information that the law deems confidential (and therefore exempt from disclosure), we will contact you to determine whether you require that information specifically. If you don’t need that confidential information, we will send you a redactions agreement specifically listing the confidential information to be excluded from your request. Please promptly review and reply to any redaction agreement or other open records correspondence sent to you by the OCCC.
If you do want to obtain information the OCCC believes is confidential by law, within ten business days of receiving your request we will ask the Texas Office of the Attorney General’s Open Records Division to decide whether or not we should release that information. The Open Records Division must decide the matter within 45 business days after receiving a request for an open records ruling (although the Open Records Division can extend this deadline by an additional 10 business days if desired). Once the Open Records Division has made its decision, a copy of the ruling will be sent to you and to the OCCC.
While we await the decision from the Texas Office of the Attorney General’s Open Records Division, the OCCC will release to you any public information you had requested that is not considered exempt from disclosure and not part of the information referred to the Open Records Division.
Will I have to pay for the information?
As a general rule, if the total charge comes to $5.00 or more, you will be billed for that amount. If the expense to our agency is less than $5.00, we will not charge you. For requests costing more than $5.00 but less than $40.00, you will receive an invoice in writing. Your information will only be provided upon receipt of payment.
Here is a listing of the most common charges:
|Standard-size paper copies or digital copies requiring redaction of confidential information||$0.10/page|
|Administrative time, non-programming||$15.00/hour|
Some requests do not end up costing the requestor anything. However, if filling your request involves a great deal of time or materials on the agency’s part, you may face some costs. The Texas Office of the Attorney General determines the amounts that state agencies can charge for filling Open Records requests; you can view the detailed guidelines regarding costs for copies of public information published in the Texas Administrative Code.
If the cost of filling the request is estimated to exceed $40.00, the OCCC will send you a written, itemized estimate of charges. When you receive the estimate, you have the opportunity to either agree to the estimated charges, withdraw your request, or modify the request to decrease the expense. For example, if the information you need is available electronically, you could opt to receive it via e-mail rather than pay for paper copies.
If the cost of filling the request is estimated to exceed $100.00, the OCCC will require that you prepay a deposit or post a bond for the full amount before processing your request. Please note that if we do not receive a response from you within ten business days from the date on the cost estimate and deposit/bond request for over $100.00, your request will automatically be withdrawn by operation of law. Additionally, if we send a letter requesting clarification on the information you are seeking, your request may also be withdrawn by operation of law if you do not respond and clarify your request.
What information about me might be disclosed to the public?
We do have on file information provided by those members of the public who use our services (such as callers to the Consumer Helpline), the principal parties of businesses or individuals that are licensed or registered under our authority (such as partners owning a motor vehicle dealership, or individual pawnshop employees), or contact information provided by a person requesting public information. The law protects certain details of your personal affairs in which the public has no legitimate interest, such as your social security number or details of a specific financial transaction. Should a requestor ask for documents containing information provided by you to the OCCC, the OCCC will disclose information as allowed by law.
What if I want to request consumer complaints?
Consumers routinely file written complaints about one of the businesses we license, and include documents containing their names, addresses, phone numbers, and financial details such as account numbers and dollar amounts involved. Should you wish to request copies of all complaints about a particular business, the Texas Public Information Act requires that we withhold either the complainant’s personal financial data or any personal identifiers (name, address, etc.). Therefore, if you wanted to know who made the complaints, we would provide the identifying information but withhold any personal financial details. On the other hand, if you wanted to focus on the financial aspects of complaints, we would provide those details and withhold any information identifying the complainants. For more information about requesting consumer complaints, please click here.