Consumers have a wide range of experiences on a daily basis. Sometimes merchants deliver on the products, terms, and conditions they advertise. Other times, they engage in bait and switch practices. Sometimes they agree to repair or replace defective goods which are still under warranty. Other times they refuse to do. When businesses engage in unfair practices or outright fraud, that’s where consumer protection laws come in. Consumer laws are aimed at ensuring the marketplace is fair. According to the American Bar Association, consumer law is “the law of everyday contracts and transactions involving individual consumers”.
Unfortunately, some merchants flout the law and some consumers are not aware of their rights. Consumers who want to ensure that they don’t get taken advantage of would do well to learn the basics of consumer law. Major cases will require the assistance of a consumer rights attorney but having basic knowledge allows any buyer to spot red flags. Here are five things attorneys like those at Robenalt Law Firm want you to know.
Many Consumer Transactions are Governed by Federal law
Consumer protection is taken seriously. The Federal Trade Commission Act regulates several consumer transactions. It looks into false advertising, bogus investment schemes. spurious health claims and more. Also at the Federal level is the Consumer Credit Protection Act. This includes the Consumer Leasing Act, the Electronic Funds Transfer Act, and the Truth in Lending Act, among others. Being treated unfairly should not be par for the course. It is illegal and should be reported.
States Also Have Their Own Consumer Laws
Many states have created their own version of the FTC and they have what are called Little FTC Acts. They also have other consumer claims laws. For example, in Ohio, laws in place include the:
- Consumer Sales Practices Act
- Debt Adjusters Act
- Homebuyer’s Protection Act
- Gift Card Act
- Payday Lending Law
As you can see, between federal and state laws, almost every type of consumer transaction is covered.
Consumer Rights Laws Protect Buyers Against Bait and Switch Tactics
This is probably the most well-known function of consumer law. Some retailers advertise an expensive product at a reduced price to get consumers in the door. When the potential buyer arrives, they are told the product or the price is no longer available. They are then pressured into buying a less desirable product or the same product at a higher price. Consumers who suspect a seller is guilty of such tactics should consult an attorney for advice.
Consumer Law Protects Against Predatory Banking Practices
You don’t have to accept whatever banks dish out. Many consumer protection lawsuits emanate from accusations of predatory lending. This refers to a wide range of actions including excessively high interest rates and hidden fees and penalties. Since many borrowers don’t read the fine print on loan agreements or credit card documentation, institutions put key details there. Conduct like this should be referred to a consumer claims lawyer.
Consumer Law Governs How Debt Collectors Should Behave
Even if you are behind in your bill payments, you should be treated fairly. Sometimes debt collectors call people very early in the morning or in the middle of the night. They may talk to their friends and family or even call their boss. These actions are not allowed under consumer laws. Such harassment can lead to a pay out of damages plus attorney fees.
Contact a Consumer Claims Attorney for Advice
Consumer laws generally allow buyers to get compensation for how much they actually lost as well as statutory damages. Sometimes the seller or lender is required to pay the consumer’s attorney fees. The only way to know how much you will get in your case is to speak to an experienced lawyer. Sometimes, rather than an individual lawsuit, a class action suit is the best way to collect damages.