With Christmas right around the corner, many American are hitting their favorite shopping malls, online retailers, and local boutiques, searching for the perfect gifts for their family and friends. However, as you swipe your credit card this holiday season, you might wonder what would happen if something were to go wrong. What if a product doesn’t work as promised? What if an advertisement is false or misleading? Does every product come with an implied warranty? Explore America’s consumer protection laws to better understand your rights as a consumer.
Consumer Protection Laws
Consumer protection laws exist to safeguard consumers from fraudulent and unfair business practices. Knowing and understanding some of these key laws will help you protect yourself from fraud, deception, and deceit. The following represents a few major laws and regulations designed to protect consumers:
- Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA): The FCRA was created to ensure that the information in credit reports is accurate, fair, and private. It outlines the steps that a person can take to correct inaccurate information in their credit report, removing items included by mistake and amending errors.
- Truth in Lending Act (TILA): TILA requires lenders to disclose their terms and sets standards regarding the manner in which costs are calculated and disclosed. It also prevents credit card companies from billing consumers for more than $50 of unauthorized credit card charges.
- Fair Credit Billing Act: The Fair Credit Billing Act is an amendment to TILA that details how consumers can fix billing errors on their credit card accounts, such as fraudulent charges, charges for goods that were not delivered, and calculation errors.
- Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA): The FDCPA protects consumers from abusive debt collection practices, preventing debt collectors from using unfair and deceptive practices to collect the money they are owed.
- Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act: The Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act provides clarity, requiring sellers and manufacturers to clearly explain the coverage, terms, and exclusions of warranties.
- Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act of 1998 (ITADA): ITADA made identity theft a federal crime in 1998. It also provides education regarding identity theft and explains how consumers can file complaints if their identity has been stolen.
- Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility, and Disclosure Act (CARD): The CARD Act aims to ensure that credit card companies offer fair and transparent services. It limits potential fees and penalties and sets strict regulations regarding when and how interest rates can rise.
As you can see, many of the most important consumer protection laws apply to credit agencies and lenders, assisting consumers when they’re in vulnerable positions. However, there are many other important consumer protection laws worth knowing. For example, all states have a common law, which protects consumers against fraudulent business practices. If a car dealer lied about the condition of a vehicle, you could sue based on common law.
In addition, there are consumer protection laws to ensure that the public is not harmed by false or misleading advertising. This prohibits “bait and switch” tactics, in which false advertisements are used to bait customers, but then the offer is switched to less favorable terms. Other consumer protection laws apply to warranty breaches, scam artists, and dangerous or defective products.
If you feel that you have been wronged as a consumer and you would like to pursue a claim regarding consumer protection laws, contact the attorneys at Replogle, Tyrrell, & Robertson. Our skilled and experienced lawyers will know which experts to consult, how to structure the case, and how to successfully prosecute your claim. To get started, please give us a call at 417-859-3979 (Marshfield office) or 417-893-5121 (Springfield office). We would be happy to help.