The government protects consumers through a variety of laws intended to ensure that the goods and services you purchase work as they should, and people are not cheated or defrauded. A Consumer Fraud Attorney can help identify any remedies to which you may be entitled. View qualified Consumer Law Firms in your area to find Consumer Protection Lawyers.
Vendors and others may deceive a consumer in a variety of ways, including:
- Identity theft – where your personal and financial information is used by another for purchases, money transfers, and to deceive others, without your permission.
- Old-fashioned fraud – where you are given false or misleading information that induces you to pay for something you would not have bought had you known the truth.
- Scams – such as through email or snail mail, where you are induced to make a purchase or otherwise disclose your account information and the crooks take that information and use it for another purpose.
- Bad faith – where a service you have purchased is denied under false pretenses, such as the denial of insurance benefits.
One modern method of fraud is phishing where the thief sends you an email that appears to be from a trusted vendor, such as your:
- Credit card company
- Internet service provider
The correspondence will identity a problem with your account or a benefit you are to receive and requests personal information, such as:
- Social security number
- Account number
- Mother’s maiden name or other password information
If you respond as intended, the scam will have succeeded with the theft of your identity.
A product may be defective because of its design, how it was manufactured, or because you were not properly informed how to use it or not warned of its dangerous misuses or qualities. Consumers are protected from these defects by products liability law (see Products Liability).
In addition, many states have enacted consumer protection statutes for certain common problems. One example is lemon laws that provide for redress should an automobile be defective (such as repeatedly having to make the same repair) or the auto seller misrepresents the vehicle, including:
- Accident history
- Structural integrity
Small claims courts allow consumers to represent themselves in cases where the damages are less than a certain amount, typically $2,500 to $5,000. Most small claims courts are informal, so self-representation is not difficult. This is a useful option in cases where the entire recovery would otherwise be eaten-up in attorney’s fees.
Most goods come with some kind of warranty. Express warranties are promises about the quality and proper use of the good, and are typically written down and provided with the good at the time of sale (e.g. “dishwasher safe.”)
In addition, many goods in the United States come with implied warranties that they will function properly and they are fit for the purpose for which they were sold. A Consumer Law Attorney can assist you in identifying all applicable warranties.
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