Consumer Rights - Consumer Protection Law
What is Consumer Rights Law?
Consumer rights and consumer protection law provides a way for individuals to fight back against abusive business practices. These laws are designed to hold sellers of goods and services accountable when they seek to profit by taking advantage of a consumer's lack of information or bargaining power. Some conduct addressed by consumer rights laws is simply unfair, while other conduct can be described as outright fraud. Consumer rights laws exist at the federal and state level. They are enforced by government agencies, offices of attorneys general, and through individual and class action lawsuits filed by victims.
Types of Consumer Protection Cases
The most common kinds of abusive business practices occur when consumers are in particularly vulnerable circumstances. For example, when people fall behind on their bills, debt collectors are in a position to make life even more difficult by calling in the early morning or late night hours, making contact at a person's place of business, and speaking to friends and family. Consumer rights laws prohibit this sort of activity. In fact, under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), such harassment can result in a statutory damage award of $1,000 for the victim, plus the attorney fees incurred in bringing the suit.
Predatory lending also forms the basis for a large number of consumer protection lawsuits. These schemes cover a broad range of conduct, such as charging exorbitant interest rates on credit cards and other loans, hiding fees and penalties in the fine print of agreements seldom read by customers, and applying payments to low-interest portions of a loan balance first. Sadly, the foreclosure crises of 2010 exposed numerous lending scams in the real estate market. Federal legislation aimed at predatory lending includes the Truth in Lending Act (TILA) and the Home Ownership and Equal Protection Act (HOEPA) of 1994.
Consumer rights laws also protect the public from false or misleading advertising. For example, automobile dealers have been known to advertise a vehicle at a reduced price in order to draw shoppers to the dealership. Once they arrive, however, that vehicle or sales price is no longer available. The dealer will then pressure shoppers into purchasing a vehicle on less favorable terms. In addition to these "bait and switch" advertising tactics, consumer rights laws address things like warranty misrepresentation, defective products, forced arbitration clauses, identity theft, and other types of harassment and fraud.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
In 1914, the U.S. Congress passed legislation creating the FTC, primarily in an effort to combat trusts and anti-competitive business practices. While the agency continues that effort, its role has since been expanded to cover a variety of consumer rights issues. The FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection is tasked with enforcing federal laws dealing with unfair or deceptive practices throughout the consumer economy. For instance, the bureau has taken an important step to curb telemarketing fraud through the creation of the National Do Not Call Registry. This popular service allows people to bar for-profit organizations from making unsolicited calls to their home telephones.
Consumer Rights Class Action Lawsuits
One problem facing consumer rights victims is the relatively small amount of economic damages they suffer as a result of a company's improper conduct. When a consumer falls victim to fraud by purchasing a product or service that does not measure up to the seller's promises, the consumer may suffer a loss equal to the amount paid, and perhaps some incidental expenses as well. But in all likelihood, the loss to the consumer will represent only a fraction of the amount of money it would take to bring a lawsuit against the seller. Consumers have the option of filing a complaint with federal or state authorities in an attempt to have sanctions brought against a fraudulent company, but this will not help consumers get their money back.
A class action lawsuit tips the balance of power in favor of the consumer. An individual whose rights have been violated can join together with others who have similar claims against the same defendant. Due to the economy of scale that exists with a class action lawsuit, a group of victims can present a serious litigation threat to even the largest corporations. Attorneys who handle these cases work on a contingency basis, meaning they only get paid if and when the victims are compensated. Furthermore, victims with claims that are the basis of a class action suit may decide to "opt-out" and pursue the matter individually when it is in their best interests to do so.
Learn if You Have a Consumer Protection Claim
If you believe a merchant has violated your consumer rights, it makes sense to speak with an attorney. You may be able to collect financial compensation, and send a message to the offender that abusive business practices will not be tolerated. Schedule an attorney consultation to learn more.
Consumer Laws - Know your Rights!
- A guide to Consumer Law
Consumers have basic rights. These basic rights include the right to safety, the right to be informed about a product, the right to choose between competing goods, and the right to have their concerns heard. If a consumer feels that these rights have been violated, they may be able to bring a case for the violation of consumer rights. In this guide to consumer protection law, learn what to do after your rights have been violated and how to receive compensation in court.
- And What Are Consumer Rights?
The phrase "consumer rights" is thrown around rather freely these days. But what are consumer rights? Are they written down somewhere? Where do they come from? What are the rights?
- Can I Get Damages if My New Appliance Caused Damage to My Home?
When a person purchases a new appliance, he or she expects it to do the job that it is intended to do. However, in some cases, a defective appliance may cause damage to a person's property through a water leak, electrical issue or other defect. In some instances, a consumer may be able to receive compensation for such damages.
- Legal Implications for Someone Who Provides a Guaranty on a Closed Business
Many people purchase a product or agree to service because the purchase comes with a warranty. However, if a warranty is made when the business is in the process of closing down or it has already closed down, certain legal implications may arise.
- Price Gouging by Small Businesses or Local Franchises
Prices for consumer goods and services are usually not a set item but may fluctuate due to market competition. Price gouging is a term used for when a seller raises prices for goods and services to a level much higher than normally expected.
- What Is Bait and Switch?
Bait and switch is a common deceptive sales practice that advertises an item for sale to entice customers to come to the store. Once the customer arrives in anticipation of the discounted item, he or she is told that the item is not available and is directed toward a more expensive alternative.
- Yo-Yo Financing Tactics
Yo-yo financing is detrimental to those affected by these situations, and it occurs through a deal with the car dealership when the financing falls through even if the person was told he or she is approved at the company.
Consumer Law Articles
- How the New California Privacy Rights Act (CPRA) Compliance Law Impacts BusinessesThe California Privacy Rights Act (CPRA) is a state statute that went into effect on January 1st, 2023 and is now officially being enforced. It is imperative that all companies in California understand their responsibilities under the CPRA and its parent law, the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). In this article, our Fremont business attorney provides an overview of the key things that companies should know about compliance with the CPRA.
- Are Eight-Liner Gambling Machines Legal in Texas? The 2nd Court of Appeals RulesThe Second Court of Appeals in Fort Worth addressed the issue of eight-liners in Texas. The issue was whether the eight-liner gambling machines are unconstitutional or illegal. Short Answer: Eight-Liners are Illegal in Texas, according to the Second Court of Appeals.
- Concerned About Unfair Competition in California?Are you concerned about unfair competition in California? What constitutes unfair competition under California law?
- Business Fraud in California: Elements and RemediesWhat are the elements of and remedies for business fraud in California? Whom should you contact if you are concerned about business fraud and the protection of your business and financial interests? The State of California has an extensive body of established case law which requires every business, supplier and customer to comport themselves honestly in any business transaction.
- What to Do If You Have Been DoxxedDoxxing, the act of sharing someone’s personal information without their consent, has become a widespread and dangerous problem, especially with the prevalence of social media and easy access to information. As a result, it is important to know what to do if you have been doxxed.
- How to Deal With Ashley Madison BlackmailBlackmail feels like something that only happens to other people. But becoming the target of Ashley Madison blackmail is more common than you would think—and if you do not handle it quickly, it can have devastating effects.
- Blockchain Glossary for LawyersBelow is an excerpt from Nick Oberheiden's latest book, "The Law of Tomorrow: Bitcoin, Tokens, Blockchain - An Introduction for Lawyers".
- FTC Defense Attorney Comments on CFPB Guidance to Root Out Unwanted Subscription Fee TacticsJoining similar FTC efforts, the CFPB issues circular that companies offering “negative option” subscription services must comply with applicable legal regulations. FTC announcement foreshadows increase in referral of "the worst consumer fraud wrongdoers" to USAO and DOJ for criminal prosecution.
- What You Need to Know About Nursing Home Arbitration AgreementsWhen you get to the nursing home and meet with the administration, they will ask you to sign a stack of roughly two dozen documents. These documents cover a range of subjects, including your legal rights in the event your loved one is harmed under the facility’s care. This form is known as the arbitration agreement, and you may have come across them in other situations throughout your life. An arbitration agreement generally waives your rights to a jury trial and to sue the other party.
- How to Spot & Avoid Cam Girl ScamsHave you visited an adult webcam or “cam girl” site, or received a friend request or dating match from someone claiming to be a “webcam model,” and are now being threatened with the release of your intimate images unless you pay money or meet some other demand? If so, you are the victim of an attempted cam girl scam.
- All Consumer Law Articles