A Columbus Class Actions Lawyer Explains Consumer Protection Laws
Customers enter interaction with businesses and service providers at several serious disadvantages. Only the seller or professional knows the true value and quality of the product or service being purchased. Consumers can also be subject to prejudice for any number of reasons—race, sex, sexual orientation, ethnicity, age, and on and on—meaning that they would not be given fair opportunities to acquire high-value items or services at reasonable prices. Last, customers cannot always be sure that the data they share with businesses and service providers will only get used for legal and ethical purposes.
Dozens of federal and Ohio state laws exist to protect consumers’ rights, interests, personal information, and bank accounts, but violations are frequent. The results of being lied to, denied fair treatment or having one’s banking information and Social Security number stolen can be devastating. Victims should take no comfort in the knowledge they are almost never alone in falling prey to dishonest commercial practices ranging from false advertising to harassment by debt collectors, but they can take hope from the work of class action lawsuit attorneys who fight to hold organizations and individuals who take advantage of consumers to account.
Federal Laws Provide the Best Defense against Consumer Fraud
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) cooperates with several U.S. government agencies to enforce more than 70 laws aimed at ensuring consumers do not lose money, physical well-being, property, and protected data to fraudulent retailers, marketers financial institutions, contractors, health care providers, and public utilities. Many of these federal consumer protection statutes carry self-explanatory names, as should be clear from this list of 13 of the most important, and most often violated, laws:
- FTC Act, which prohibits false advertising, collusion in setting prices, and deliberately selling defective and dangerous products and services
- Consumer Leasing Act, extending many of the protections of the Truth in Lending Act to renters
- Consumer Credit Protection Act, which, in part, limits debt collectors’ ability to garnish wages and seize property
- Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009
- Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, which consolidates many authorities to keep banks, mortgage companies, stock traders, and credit card issuers honest by establishing the Consumer Federal Protection Bureau
- Do-Not Call Registry Act
- Fair Credit Billing Act
- Fair Credit Reporting Act
- Fair Debt Collection Practices Act
- Fair Packaging and Labeling Act, sets rules for listing the contents and manufacturer on every consumer product, which had previously only been required for food, drugs, and cosmetics
- Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation Improvement Act of 1991, requiring full disclosure for all accounts and investments such as stock purchases that are not backed by federal insurance
- Telemarketing and Consumer Fraud and Abuse Prevention Act, a precursor to the Do-Not Call Registry that prohibits deceptive and high-pressure sales tactics over telephone lines
- The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, which obligates websites and apps to make requests for personal information obvious and easily refused
- Truth in Lending Act, requires full disclosure of all loan terms including interest rates and deferred payments and also permits consumers to void loans within three days of signing papers
Federal consumer protection laws not enforced by the FTC include those aimed at reducing exposures to lead paint and asbestos, as well as several provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare; HIPAA, or the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act; and the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetics Act, which often gets abbreviated as FD&C Act. This last set of statutes is particularly important for preventing life-threatening side effects from medications, poisonings from tainted agricultural products, and injuries from caustic chemicals.
The State of Ohio Also Watches Out for Consumers
Ohio’s attorney general bears responsibility for keeping people in the Buckeye State safe from fraud, false advertising, abusive debt collection practices, and unfair lending, A full list of the specific statutes the AG’s office enforces is available online, along with brief explanations. A few of the most-frequently invoked are the
- Consumer Sales Practices Act, a state equivalent of the FTC Act that uses the term “unconscionable” to describe prohibited acts
- Credit Services Organization Act
- Debt Adjusters Act, which places rules on debt consolidators and credit restorers
- Homebuyer’s Protection Act
- Lemon Law, which applies mostly to cars and trucks sold with undisclosed defects
- Motor Vehicle Collision Repair Operators Act
- Short-Term Lender Law, which caps the interest rates payday lenders can charge
- Telephone Solicitation Sales Act
Contact a Consumer Fraud Attorney in Columbus, Ohio
The timeless advice caveat emptor—buyer beware—only carries legal weight when the seller or service provider acts in good faith. When a business, contractor, health care provider, or lender engages in false advertising, markets something they know will cause harm, fails to deliver on promises, makes threats against customers and clients, or misuses information that should be kept private, the cheated, injured, or financially harmed consumer has a right to seek restitution and compensation.
No dishonest business, oppressive salesperson, or abusive debt collector can be allowed to take advantage of customers. If anything like that has happened to you, consider contacting a Columbus class action lawsuit attorney at Leist Warner. We know the law, and we can answer all your initial questions during a no-cost case consultation. You can get in touch by calling (614) 222-1000 or using our web-based contact form.