Protecting Consumers from Unfair Business Practices
Serving Clients in Phoenix, Salt Lake City & Beyond
When a business conducts unethical practices, consumers often get hurt the most. Whether you purchase a lemon from an auto dealership or a mortgage lender lies about financing options, it is easy for people to fall victim to fraud. Law Zebra believes that all consumers have rights, and they need to be protected in order to be preserved. If you were cheated by a company, call our firm to get in touch with a consumer protection attorney in Phoenix or Salt Lake City.
How Laws Protect You
While it is important to exercise common sense when making any purchase, there are also laws in place to defend you from unscrupulous business practices. These laws are designed to provide safeguards for consumers from businesses and collection agencies that engage in abusive practices.
- The Fair Debt Collections Practices Act (FDCPA)
- The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA)
- The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA)
Very few attorneys have made themselves aware of these rights or know what needs to be done to protect consumers. Regulated by the Federal Trade Commission, these important pieces of legislation provide specific guidelines on how businesses, creditors, banks, and mortgage lenders can contact and treat consumers.
Common Types of Consumer Rights Violations
Every day, businesses, employers, medical facilities, banks, and mortgage lenders take advantage of consumers. Most victims of fraud do not even know their rights have been violated. If you are the victim of fraud or unethical business practices, Law Zebra has attorneys who can help.
It is important to look for warning signs and to identify the most common types of consumer rights violations:
- Debt collection: Many debt collection agencies are guilty of misrepresentation. They may ask for a balance the consumer does not owe or for one that is far greater than the correct amount. Debt collection agencies must send out monthly statements if they are collecting interest.
- Mortgage lenders: Homebuyers often get stuck in predatory loans, including subprime loans that can drain their finances by paying higher interest and fees. Some realtors and mortgage companies also fail to disclose prior issues with the house, including mold damage, termite infestation, or other problems that impact the value of the property or its livability.
- Banks: In recent years, several banks have come under scrutiny for establishing fake accounts to meet sales quotas.
- Car dealerships: Among the most common violations include bait and switch tactics, where the consumer purchases a vehicle that is different than advertised. They may end up with a car that was a prior rental or had salvage title without being notified.
- Retailers: Misrepresentation is rampant in the retail industries. For example, some outlet stores promise discounts on prices that never existed. Instead of getting a discount, the consumer ends up paying an inflated price.
- Telemarketers and collection agencies: Any calls or texts to your cell phone without permission by a telemarketer or collection agency is a violation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) and is subject to fines ranging from $500 to $1,500.
- Employers: Employers are prohibited from pulling a job applicant’s credit report without their permission. Background checks must comply with the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).
For some unfortunate people, constant phone calls from debt collectors are part of their day-to-day experience. While the FDCPA places limitations on how many times a collector can contact a consumer, many of these agencies don’t care.
In some cases, collectors have been known to make threats, such as:
- Having the consumer arrested if the debt is not paid
- Threatening to call an employer, neighbor, or family member
- Threatening to call the Division of Family Services to have their children taken away
An agency may even call about a debt that does not exist or was already discharged in bankruptcy. The Consumer Protection Act requires debt collection agencies to contact debtors by mail, and the letter must contain the correct debt amount and creditor name.
Credit Reporting Issues
A credit report contains your loan paying history and the status of all your credit accounts. This information is private and protected information, and it must be respected as such. Maintaining a good credit score is crucial when purchasing a car, home, or when applying for a job. However, those wishing to obtain someone’s credit report—a bank, employer, or dealership—must first have permission from the consumer.
Unauthorized use of credit reports is not only against the law, but it can also have severe consequences. It is the equivalent of someone coming into your house and rifling through your important financial statements and papers. Unauthorized views of your credit report can often lead to errors that may affect a person’s ability to make an important purchase, obtain a job, or get a specific interest rate. It can keep you from getting an apartment, and could even impact the premium you pay for insurance.
Owning a home has always been considered the American Dream, but it can become a nightmare when a bank or mortgage company abuses their lending policies and your rights. Loan modifications are particularly troublesome.
Homeowners will come to a bank or mortgage lender for a loan modification to deal with loans that are far in excess of the value of the property. While banks required to participate in loan modifications, they do not always act ethically, leaving homeowners in predatory subprime lending schemes that harm their finances and credit score.
Student Loan Issues
The price of a college education continues to skyrocket. Unfortunately, some colleges, universities, and trade schools take advantage of students through government lending, resulting in countless people buried in overwhelming debt. In many cases, the loan provider may be unlicensed. A consumer rights attorney can protect you and ensure you are being treated fairly.
Call (801) 820-9955 now to get started.
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Work with successful trial attorneys who are ready to protect and defend your rights as a consumer to keep you out of the lion's den when financial hardships are on the horizon.Call Today at 801-820-9955