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What are Consumer Protection Laws?

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  • Written By: Simone Lawson
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 31 October 2016
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Consumer protection laws serve to protect individuals from fraudulent corporations or business practices. These laws may also support consumers in rebuilding credit or in recovering from bankruptcy. Some countries, such as Germany, the United Kingdom and Australia, have agencies that operate to protect consumers. The United States has several acts that have been passed by Congress to regulate fraudulent business practices and protect consumers.

In Germany, consumers are protected by the Federal Administrative Court. Cases claiming unfair business practices are typically heard in this court. Consumer protection in Germany is overseen by an appointed political officer of consumer protection. The Chancellor of Germany is usually responsible for appointing these Federal Ministers.

In the United Kingdom, consumers are protected by the Office of Fair Trading. The Consumer Protection act was passed by the Parliament in 1987 to delineate product liability, protect consumer safety and clarify pricing indications. Complaints may be brought before the Magistrates court or the Secretary of State.

In Australia, consumer complaints are addressed by Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC). The ACCC enforces the 1974 Trade Practices Act and serves to protect consumers from fraudulent practices. Warranties of the Trade Practices Act are specifically aimed at regulating product safety and identifying unfair trade practices.

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In the United States, consumer protection laws are enforced and set in place by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to protect consumers from misleading or unfair trade practices. Most states also have additional consumer protection laws that protect consumers from business-specific fraud, such as vehicle and home sales or club contracts. These state laws vary greatly between regions and are often enforced by the state attorney general. Some well-known examples of federal consumer protection laws enforced by the FTC are the Consumer Credit Protection Act and the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act.

The Consumer Credit Protection Act was set in place to protect those who are borrowing money. This act requires lenders to disclose all terms and conditions of the financing agreement before completing the transaction. These laws also limit the garnishment of wages and regulate the use of charge accounts.

The Consumer Credit Protection Act also requires businesses to participate in fair credit reporting practices. Fair credit reporting requires that the consumer be fully informed of any accruing debt and debt collection attempts before acquiring higher interest rates or being reported to a collection agency. The Consumer Credit Protection Act is typically enforced by the FTC, but most states have laws that are similar to the act to prevent state-isolated incidents of fraud.

The Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act was passed by Congress in 1975. This Act protects the consumer by mandating that a product's warranty completely disclose any terms and conditions of the warranty. These laws aim to protect consumers by improving available product information and preventing deceptive warranty practices by businesses.

The federal cause of action is a title that allows consumers to file complaints if they experience problems with a company defaulting on a written warranty. If a company fails to provide what was originally stipulated in the full or limited warranty, the buyer has the right under this act to seek legal action. If the seller is found to have defaulted on a warranty, then the seller is required to replace the cost of the product and pay any associated legal fees incurred by the buyer.

It is generally advisable to seek legal counsel under consumer protection laws. An attorney can address specific concerns of fraud and should be well informed of federal and state protection laws. An attorney may also file a complaint with the FTC to provide additional action against a fraudulent business.

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cafe41
Post 4

@SurfNTurf - I agree. I think that you should research a business with the Better Business Bureau in order to find out information on the business. Many fraudulent businesses have an existing record with the Better Business Bureau and you can see the comments of what other people have written about the company.

I also heard that many elderly consumers are being tricked over the phone to provide personal information so that the thief can use it for identity theft. I know that with all of the scams out there it is hard for the consumer protection agencies to keep up, but you just have to be extra aware that this is going on so that you are not victimized.

surfNturf
Post 3

@Moldova- I think that consumer protection agencies do a great deal in protecting the public about the potential fraudulent scams out there.

I was reading that since these economic times have become especially difficult there seems to be a sharp rise in fake business opportunities and offers to help with debt relief.

In fact over 250,000 complaints have been researched by the Federal Trade Commission and over $100 million dollars in savings to the general public. A lot of these schemes involve foreclosure defense and trying to save a homeowner’s house from foreclosure. There are also fake investment scams and fraudulent business opportunities that are usually home based.

I think that any company that asks you for

money up front should give you a red flag. I would never give money to someone that I didn’t know, but these people take advantage of people in their weakest moments. I think that if someone is facing foreclosure they should try to put their home on the market as a short sale and forget about looking into those foreclosure relief companies which are mostly fake.

I know banks are more willing to consider short sales because they know what the market will bear and if the selling price is reasonable it will save them money in foreclosure costs and costs associated with maintaining the home.

Moldova
Post 2

@Sunny27 -I agree with you with respect to DUI cases, but I have to say that the tort laws regarding supposed medical malpractice should change because we may lose a lot of practicing doctors because they can no longer afford the insurance premiums associated with malpractice insurance.

I understand that there has to be some protection for the general public but I think that there should be a cap on the damages and if the party bringing the suit loses they should pay the court fees this way only legitimate cases will be brought to trial and the frivolous lawsuits will not be such a big problem.

We have to balance the consumer protection with the right for physicians to practice.

Sunny27
Post 1

I have to say that I believe that the DUI laws should be strengthened. I think that the first offense should be a felony and there should be warning labels on all alcohol that state what could happened if someone drinks and drive.

They have warnings on cigarettes that note that cigarette smoking can lead to cancer, so why not offer the consequences of excessive drinking especially when driving.

I also feel that the DUI laws should also force those with their first DUI to be forced to drive around with a mechanism attached to their ignition that does not allow them to start the car is they are under the influence. This can save a lot of people.

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