Consumer fraud generally encompasses any unfair or deceptive tactics used to illegally lure consumers into buying something.
Types of Consumer Fraud
- False advertising - misleading a consumer about some aspect of a product, which was an important factor in the consumer's decision to buy the product.
- Bait and switch - luring the consumer in with an unbeatable deal that is no longer available, and then only offering different products.
- Pyramid schemes - any promotion or unrealistic return, when the only money you make is the return on the funds of people newly recruited to the system.
Complaint Process for Consumer Fraud
First contact the business that sold the item or performed the services and let them know about your dissatisfaction. Keep a record of all people you talk to and the results. If no action is taken by the business, write a letter of complaint to the business and forward a copy on to your local Consumer Protection Agency (see below) or Better Business Bureau. Finally, if no action is taken, consider hiring an attorney.
Additional Consumer Rights
- Cooling off period - most states give consumers until midnight on the third business day after the product or service was purchased to cancel the contract for whatever reason.
- Shipping requirements - if you order something to be shipped the seller must ship to you in the time stated. If the seller cannot ship the items they must provide you with notice and the option to cancel the deal, accept a refund or accept a new delivery date.
- Used car rule - a dealer is required to post on each car a buyer's guide disclosing warranty and other important information.
- Mail fraud schemes - it is impermissible for a company to send you an item in the mail that you did not order, and then expect you to pay for it.
Examples of Scams
There are many different means by which to be a victim of fraud. Some examples of fraudulent services are: Credit Card Scams, Sweepstakes Scams, Cell Phone Scams, Fraudulent Telemarketing, and Mail Order Fraud to name a few.
The Consumer Protection Agency
The Consumer Protection Agency is an agency whose duty is to regulate the consumer industry. They license and regulate professionals, conduct investigations into consumer and financial scams, and prosecute those scammers criminally. The Consumer Protection Agency can also help injured individuals bring civil lawsuits for money against fraudulent businesses or professionals.
Do I Need an Attorney for My Consumer?
An attorney experienced in consumer protection matters can write demand letters on your behalf, and file a lawsuit against the fraudulent company if necessary. If your company is being accused or sued for consumer protection or fraud, you should speak to a lawyer immediately to explain your legal rights and potential remedies.