Consumer Definition: A consumer is defined as “one who buys, uses, maintains and disposes of products and/or services.” While many may still be familiar with the doctrine of “Let the Buyer Beware” this is no longer the case with the advent of Consumer Protection law.
What is Consumer Rights Law?
This legal area encompasses a large body of laws enacted by the government to protect consumers by regulating many of the following practices: abusive collection practices, credit reporting, advertising, sales and business practices, product branding, mail fraud, sound banking and truth in lending, quality produce and meats, housing material and other product standards, and many other types of consumer transactions.
These laws have been created on both the state and federal level. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) oversees consumer protection laws. Most states have established some type of consumer protection agency.
The practice of consumer protection law includes pursuing lawsuits for consumers who have been the victims of unlawful business and/or credit practices, identity theft lawsuits, and defending debt collection agencies and other companies when accused of these violations.
There are various Federal Acts that address different aspects of consumer protection. The Consumer Credit Protection Act (CCPA), also referred to as the federal Truth in Lending Act, regulates the credit industry with respect to consumer rights, which includes credit card companies and credit reporting agencies, as well as loan sharks and wage garnishment.
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act was created to abolish abusive collection practices and give consumers a means to dispute inaccurate debt information.
The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) regulates credit reporting agencies and those who use them.
The Fair Credit Billing Act deals with billing practices in credit accounts.
The Magnuson-Moss Act of 1973 deals with standards for product warranties, both implied and express.
The Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act, which was signed into law in 1998, regulates the issues surrounding identity theft.
Debtors, Collectors and the Law
If you use credit cards, owe money on a personal loan, or are paying on a home mortgage, you are a “debtor.” If you fall behind in repaying your creditors, or an error is made on your accounts, you may be contacted by a “debt collector.”
You should know that in either situation the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act requires that debt collectors treat you fairly by prohibiting certain methods of debt collection. Of course, the law does not forgive any legitimate debt you owe.
The law prohibits creditors from using abusive or deceptive tactics to collect a debt. The law, however, also grants powerful collection tools to creditors once they have won a lawsuit over the debt. Read the frequently asked questions (in the right sidebar) to learn more about debt collectors.