What is consumer law?

If I had a penny for every time someone asked me “what is consumer law?” I wouldn’t be rich, but I’d sure have a lot of pennies.

Consumer law is the label we’ve given the area of law that protects people like you and me – consumers – by imposing legal requirements designed to protect us from a variety of abuses, including unfair debt collection practices, unfair lending practices and fraud.

What is a consumer?  A consumer is someone who purchases items, such as a car, TV, couch, or even a pencil sharpener, and uses it for personal and/or household use.  This means that you are not labeled as a consumer when you buy these same or similar items for your business.

There are many situations that would be considered a potential consumer law claim:

Have you ever applied for credit and then at the very end of the application, or even after you accept the terms, you find out about hidden fees that weren’t disclosed to you before you applied?  Or perhaps you have been harassed by debt collectors who are trying to collect money from you. It could be that you told a debt collector not to contact you anymore, and yet they continue to do so. You might have applied for credit based on promises that were made in the advertisements, only to find out that what was promised is not available to you. Do you feel that you were discriminated against when you applied for credit based on your race, gender or where you live?  Maybe you applied for credit but discovered inaccurate delinquencies on your credit report so you want to contact the credit bureaus and creditors to correct the inaccurate reporting.  Did you purchase a vehicle but later learned that the dealer/seller failed to tell you about hidden defects in the car? You might have been the victim of falling for a scam or identity theft and are now in need of help.

This article is not intended to be an exhaustive list of the scenarios that could be consumer law; it is merely offered to provide examples and to create a better picture for you of what consumer law really is.  If you think you have a consumer law claim, you should contact an attorney immediately.

What laws apply? There are multiple federal regulations that have been implemented to protect consumers and to give consumers legal rights when they have been wronged.  In some states, there are even state level regulations that offer the same, and often times more, protections for consumers. You should contact an attorney who is licensed in the state where you live if you think you have a consumer law claim.  If you are an Oregon resident, like me, you are protected by the many federal regulations, as well as Oregon’s Unlawful Trade Practices Act, which was implemented to protect consumers from fraud.

What are federal consumer protection laws?

There are many federal consumer protection laws.  To name a few of the most common laws please see the list below, but keep in mind that there are other laws out there to protect consumers:

     –  Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) – dictates what a third-party debt collector can and cannot do when attempting to collect a debt from you.

     –  Unfair, Deceptive, or Abusive Acts and Practices (UDAAP) – to ensure that advertising and marketing from lenders is not misleading to consumers.

     –  Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) – dictates how a credit reporting agency can use your information to ensure that your credit reporting is accurate.

     –  Truth in Lending Act (TILA) – dictates how businesses and creditors treat a consumer in lending, and what information must be provided to a consumer regarding the cost         of credit.

     –  Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) – creates restrictions for telephone solicitations and for the use of auto dialer systems.

The information and materials provided in this article have been prepared for informational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice and do not constitute an attorney-client relationship between you and this law firm. If you believe you have a legal case or claim, you should contact an attorney promptly; strict time limitations may apply to your case or claim.

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