What is Consumer Law?
Consumer Law covers federal and state regulations and rules that are in place to ensure a safer buying experience and to ensure that sellers do not use underhand tactics to promote and sell goods.
Consumer Law is the area of law dealing with ordinary consumers who have been cheated, injured or financially harmed by the actions of another company or business.
Consumer laws are in place to prevent false and misleading advertisements and to ensure that product safety measures are in place. Identity theft, online fraud, goods and products sold while hiding defects, etc. are examples of the scope of consumer law. These laws can also include credit protection, debt protection, deceptive trade practices, warranty laws, product recall laws, food and drug administration, and other consumer laws.
Who is a Consumer?
In law, a consumer is an individual making purchases or leasing goods and services for personal use or for use in the household. Consumer law specifically protects these consumers as against purchases made for business use that are covered under other laws. A consumer can also be defined as the final user of the product. Both federal and state laws use similar definitions to ascertain who a consumer is.
Which Laws Protect Consumers?
States enforce consumer protection laws that can include credit protection, debt protection, deceptive trade practices, warranty laws, product recall laws, food and drug administration, and other consumer laws. A consumer lawyer is a lawyer who protects those ordinary consumers using the law and statutes that have been created to protect them. These laws and statutes are state and federal statutes dealing with consumer rights.
Consumers have recourse to legal measures elaborated in federal statutes. They can also fight for their rights through common-law claims.
Important Statutes Under Consumer Law
- Federal Trade Commission Act – The Federal Trade Commission Act (FTCA) is enforced through the Federal Trade Commission. It deals with antitrust statutes and promotes consumer protection. Consumer complaints regarding deceptive trade practices are handled by the commission’s Bureau of Consumer Protection.
- Debt Collection Statutes – The federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) shields consumers from unfair debt collection practices. The scope of this act covers personal, family, and household debts.
- Banking and Credit-Related Statutes – There are multiple statutes to regulate private credit reporting agencies from misinforming consumers about the state of their credit score. The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) ensures that CRAs do not withhold information from the consumer and that disputed information is verified. The act allows consumers one free credit report every year. The Truth in Lending Act (TILA) is a safeguard for customers interacting with banks and private lenders. Under this cost, the customer has the right to learn about the actual and complete cost of the loan. The law also gives consumers to cancel, within three days, any loans that attract liens.
- Real Estate Statutes – The Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) protects consumers from fraudulent real estate transactions, such as bribes between agencies involved in selling or leasing properties to individuals. Property buyers are to receive a detailed statement, the HUD-1, that explains the breakup of the selling price.
Alex R. Hernandez Jr. is a member of the National Association of Consumer Advocates and dedicates his practice to helping those who have been wronged, cheated, or injured in consumer law issues.