Consumer Law

Created by Congress through Federal Trade Commission Act (FTCA) of 1914

 

Purpose of FTCA: Prevent fraud, deception, and unfair business practices

 

Purpose of FTC: Enforce provisions of FTCA

 

FTC methods to protect consumers:

 

Consumer Education

 

Legal Action

 

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Chapter 45Consumer LawCopyright © 2015 McGraw-Hill Education. All rights reserved. No reproduction or distribution without the prior written consent of McGraw-Hill Education.Consumer Law (Definition):A statute or administrative rule serving to protect consumer interests45-245-3Federal Trade Commission (FTC)Created by Congress through Federal Trade Commission Act (FTCA) of 1914Purpose of FTCA: Prevent fraud, deception, and unfair business practicesPurpose of FTC: Enforce provisions of FTCAFTC methods to protect consumers:Consumer EducationLegal Action45-4How The FTC Brings An Action:FTC conducts an investigationFTC sends a complaint to the violatorFTC and violator settle complaint through “consent agreement”If company refuses to enter consent agreement, FTC may issue formal administrative complaint, which leads to administrative hearingIf company has violated the law, FTC issues a “cease-and-desist” order45-5Remedies For Violation of “Cease-And-Desist” Order FTC can:Seek injunction against company; and/orFine company up to $10,000 per violation45-6Elements of Deceptive AdvertisingMaterial misrepresentation, omission, or practice that isLikely to mislead aReasonable consumer“Bait-And-Switch” AdvertisingA form of deceptive advertising; advertising low price to “bait” consumer into store, only so that salesperson can “switch” consumer to a higher-priced item45-745-8FTC Actions Against Deceptive Advertising“Cease-and-Desist” Actions: Court orders requiring that firms stop their current advertising behaviorMultiple-Product Orders: Court orders requiring that firms stop current advertisements on numerous products (as opposed to one specified product)Corrective Advertising: Advertisements in which company explicitly states that formerly advertised claims were untrue45-9Telemarketing And Electronic Advertising1991 Telephone Consumer Protection Act: Telemarketers cannot use an automatic telephone dialing or pre-recorded voice systemTelemarketing and Consumer Fraud and Abuse Prevention Act of 1994: Congress asked FTC to define “deceptive and abusive” telemarketing practices, and requested that FTC create and enforce rules governing telemarketing that would prohibit such practices According to FTC-created Telemarketing Sales Rule of 1995, telemarketers must:Identify call as sales callIdentify product name and sellerTell total cost of goods being soldNotify listener/reader whether sale non-refundableRemove consumer’s name from contact list if consumer so requestsFederal “Do Not Call” Registry: Telemarketers cannot call consumers who have voluntarily placed their phone numbers on the federal “do not call” list45-10Regulation of Tobacco AdvertisingPublic Health Cigarette Smoking Act of 1970: Prohibits radio and television cigarette advertisementsSmokeless Tobacco Health Education Act of 1986: Also prohibits radio and television advertisements for smokeless tobaccoLabeling and Packaging LawsFederal and state governments have passed laws requiring that manufacturers provide accurate, understandable labeling information; if product is potentially harmful, manufacturer must make consumer aware of harm45-1145-12Sales“Door-to-Door” Sales: The “cooling-off” rule gives consumers 3 days to cancel purchases they make from salespeople who come to their homesTelephone and Mail-Order Sales: The Mail or Telephone Order Merchandise Rule of 1993 extends protections to those who purchase over the phone or by faxUnsolicited Merchandise: Consumer allowed to treat any unsolicited merchandise as a gift; consumer free to keep/return unsolicited merchandise as he/she wishes45-13FTC Regulation of Specific IndustriesUsed-Car SalesFuneral Home SalesReal Estate SalesOnline Sales45-14Credit ProtectionTruth-In-Lending Act: Requires that sellers disclose terms of credit/loan to facilitate consumer’s comparison of a variety of credit lines/loansFair Credit Reporting Act: Ensures accurate credit reportingFair Debt Collection Practices Act: Regulates actions of debt collectors that regularly attempt to collect debts on behalf of othersCredit Card Fraud Act: Closes “loopholes” in federal laws to further punish people who commit credit card fraudFair Credit Billing Act: Seeks to remedy problems and abuses associated with billing errorsFair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act: Takes affirmative actions to control and prosecute identity theftCredit Cardholders’ Bill of Rights Act : Targets unfair credit card practices45-15Collection Practices Expressly Prohibited By The FDCPAContacting debtor at work (if debtor’s employer objects)Contacting debtor who has notified collection agency that he/she wants no contact with agencyContacting debtor before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m.Contacting third parties about the debt (Exceptions: contacting debtor’s parents, spouse, or financial adviser)Using obscene/threatening language when communicating with debtorMisrepresenting collection agency as a lawyer/police officer (Note: These restrictions apply to all “debt collectors”)45-16Consumer Health and SafetyFederal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act: Protects consumers against misbranded or adulterated food, drugs, medical devices, or cosmeticsConsumer Product Safety Act: Created the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to “protect the public against unreasonable risks of injuries and deaths associated with consumer products”

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