There are many statutes and laws in place to protect consumer interests and shield them from being duped or wronged. Consumer laws exist at both federal and state levels and allow consumers to bring malpractices of sellers or service providers to the court’s notice. However, treading through the legal processes is difficult for consumers who have no idea of what bracket the malpractice will fall under or what authority to contact. Hiring and getting assistance from consumer rights protection lawyers, thus, helps the consumer in holding the party at fault accountable in the court of law for their misdeeds.
Sellers and service providers, at times, tend to misuse a lack of information at the customers’ end for their profit. Consumer protection laws provide customers the right to legally protest and fight against these abusive sellers and service providers. Government agencies, attorneys' general offices, and class action and individual lawsuits filed by customers are used to enforce consumer rights laws.
The following statutes have been laid down in the American constitution for upholding the consumer rights laws:
Enforced by the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) Bureau of Consumer Protection, these statutes form an integral part of federal consumer protection. The FTC, first formed in 1914, was formed to combat antitrust statutes and anti-competitive business practices. However, since then, the commission’s role has been expanded to include consumer protection. The commission provides a portal for customers to lodge their complaints against sellers and service providers. These complaints are investigated by the Bureau of Consumer Protection who probes to find if any unfair or deceptive trade practice was used in the transaction between the seller and customer or there was any other discrepancy that violated a consumer protection law. The bureau is responsible for implementing the federal deceptive statutes across the US economy.
In addition to the FTC’s deceptive trade practice statutes, states have specific laws to protect consumers from fraud.
Debt collectors can trouble consumers and often take advantage of them by contacting them incessantly and continuously. Both federal and state debt collection laws protect consumers from improper and unfair debt collection activities. While state statutes vary, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) enforces debt collection statutes federally. The scope of protection under the federal act only includes personal, household, and family debts. Debts incurred for individual and business purposes are not protected under the FDCPA. The basic protection offered under the statutes is to limit the number of times a creditor can call a person for debt collection. It also calls for creditors to cease communicating with the customers when they receive a written request. However, creditors can file litigations to demand explanations from consumers in such scenarios. Additionally, the FDCPA also gives consumers a 30-day window to challenge the debt's validity and request the creditor for verification.
Credit reports and scores have become a key deciding factor for consumers to procure loans, buy houses and cars. Unfortunately, these credit scoring and reporting agencies are private enterprises that work with little or no oversight. Therefore, several federal and state statutes protect consumers against misreporting their credit scores and give them the right to hold companies accountable for inaccurate analysis. Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) empowers consumers to demand their information from credit reporting agencies and correct wrongful or inaccurate disputed by them. An amendment in 2003 also entitles a consumer to get a free credit report every year.
A banking statute created to protect consumers is the Truth in Lending Act (TILA). The act is defined to protect consumers from deceptive and unfair lending practices. Under the act, banks and creditors must disclose all the terms and conditions of the loan, including the interest rate levied and the expected timeline for the loan before it is signed and funds are released.
Besides the FCT, other federal laws that protect consumers against fraud and sub-standard products are the Consumer Product Safety Act (CPSA) and the Federal Food and Drug Act (FFDA). These laws require food products and medicines to be manufactured under certain guidelines and meet various safety standards. The government agencies responsible for implementing these laws are the Food and Drug Administration and Consumer Product Safety Commission.
Product liability statutes aim to protect consumers from injuries that they may sustain due to flaws in product safety. If a consumer suffers an injury due to a product, they can file a lawsuit to be compensated for the damages they incur. Three common product liability claims and instances supported by states are:
Hiring a consumer lawyer can help customers in the following ways:
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