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Consumer Protection Law Explained

August 15, 2016

The complex and large economy of the United States perhaps provides the broadest potential for services and products in history, however these opportunities also bring along with them risk of theft, fraud and scams.  The principle of “buyer beware” is still applicable, just as it has been since commerce first began.  However, in today’s economy, a consumer may fall victim to a debt collector, a bank, a seller or services or goods, or any other business taking advantage of the position that it holds for engaging in fraud or deception.  We have developed ways, both in the form of state and federal statutes as well as common law, to protect the rights and interests of consumers.

Deceptive Trade Practice Statutes

Initially enacted in 1914, the Federal Trade Commission Act (FTCA) is an essential federal consumer protection statute.  This act resulted in the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) being created.  The purpose of the FTC is to promote consumer protection and enforce antitrust statutes.  The Bureau of Consumer Protection is part of the FTC and investigates consumer complaints that involve deceptive trade practice in addition to other consumer protection statute violations.

In addition, states have consumer protection statutes of their own that guard against fraud and deception by individuals and businesses that sell services or goods.  One of the country’s more comprehensive consumer protection statutes is the Consumers Legal Remedies Act. It prohibits different forms of false advertising, like falsely representing deteriorated or used goods as “new” or misrepresenting the quality or source of goods.

Debt Collection Statutes

Federal and state laws protect consumes from dishonest debt collection practices.  A debt collector is broadly defined by the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) as anyone who uses mail or other forms of interstate commerce to try to collect a debt, using direct or indirect means, for another.  The protection that is provided by the federal act is limited to household, family and personal debts, so does not include individual debts that have been incurred for business reasons or to business debts.  There are limits for what times of day that debt collectors are allowed to contact consumers, and they are required to stop communicating with consumers upon receiving a written request, except through litigation.  A 30-day period is also provided by the FDCPA during which the validity of a debt may be disputed by the consumer and verification may be requested.  Visit The Cooper Law Firm website for in-depth info about debt collection statutes and how they relate to consumer protection lawsuits.

Credit And Banking Statutes 

An individual’s credit score has emerged as being a very critical piece of information that not only impacts a person’s ability to buy a car or home, but in many cases their employment prospects as well.  Credit reporting agencies (CRAs) have little oversight or transparency given that they are private entities, so there have now several statute protecting consumers against inaccurate or false credit reporting. Credit reporting agencies are required by the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) to provide information to consumers that is contained in their file  and also to verify an information that the consumer disputes.  The Fair and Accurate Credit Transaction Act was passed in 2003 and is an amendment to the FCRA.  It allows consumer to receive one free credit report per year.

The Truth in Lending Act (TILA) offers consumers protection against unfair or deceptive practices by creditors and banks.  It requires lenders and banks to close a loan’s total costs, including interest and all other costs that can be expected to paid over a loan’s life, at the time that the promissory note is signed by the consumer. For loans were a lien is created on the consumer’s residence, like a home mortgage refinance, a three-day right of rescission is allowed by the law, which means the consumer can cancel the loan within three days with no penalty.

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About the Author

At the Law Offices of Top Gun DUI Defense Attorney Myles L. Berman, our experienced team of DUI / Drunk Driving defense lawyers are dedicated to aggressively defending people arrested for DUI.