• March 2, 2018
  • Posted by General Electric Credit Union
  • 4 read

What Are My Consumer Rights?

Consumer rights protect you when buying goods or services. As a consumer, you have the right to expect a fair transaction; when you buy goods, they must be of satisfactory quality, as described, fit for its purpose, and last a reasonable length of time.1 This applies to any good purchased, even if it’s on sale or purchased with a coupon.

The most accepted basic consumer rights include:

  • The right to safety: The products consumers purchase are reasonably safe for their intended purpose when used as directed.
  • The right to be informed: As a consumer, you should have enough information to weigh alternatives and protect yourself from false or misleading information.
  • The right to choose: This means having competing goods and services to offer alternatives in price, quality, and service.

Common consumer protection cases

Consumer rights and consumer protection laws provide ways for individuals to dispute abusive business practices and hold businesses accountable if they attempt to unfairly profit from a consumer. This can be unfair due to a consumer’s lack of knowledge or bargaining power.

Abusive business practices often occur when consumers are in vulnerable situations such as they’ve fallen behind on their bills. Debt collectors may attempt to disrupt their lives in an effort to collect; however, consumer rights laws prohibit activity such as calling early morning or late night or harassing consumers.2 Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), harassment such as this can result in an award for the victim.

Predatory lending including: charging excessive interest rates on credit cards or loans, hiding fees and penalties, and applying payments to low-interest portions of a loan balance are all protected by your consumer rights. The Truth in Lending Act (TILA) and Home Ownership and Equal Protection Act (HOEPA) are created to combat these practices.

Consumer rights laws

In addition to federal protection regulations and agencies, many states have additional regulations to protect consumers:

  • Ohio: Consumer transactions are regulated by the state’s main consumer protection law, the Consumer Sales Practices Act (CSPA) which protects consumers from unfair, deceptive, and unconscionable acts and practices in transactions. Additionally, it prohibits low-quality work, deceptive advertising, and misrepresented products or services.3
  • Kentucky: With extensive statutes within the Consumer Protection and Criminal sections of its Revised Statures, the state regulations prohibit sellers from intentionally misleading buyers.4
  • Indiana: Designed to protect consumers from suppliers who commit deceptive and unconscionable acts, Indiana regulates business practices with its Deceptive Consumer Sales Act (DCSA).5

Protecting yourself

As a consumer, always be on guard to avoid falling for any scams. While federal and state regulations may protect us, be aware of potential fraud or scams.

To protect yourself from consumer fraud, remember:6

  • Walk away from high-pressure sellers who want you to decide right away.
  • Don’t sign a contract until you’ve had a chance to read it in its entirety, including disclosures.
  • Never cash a check you receive in the mail stating you’ve won a prize.
  • Don’t respond to letters or emails asking to transfer money into your bank or wire money out.
  • Never pay money upfront to get a loan or win a sweepstakes.

Stay informed about the latest data breaches or scams and always be on alert. If you feel you’ve been a victim of attempted fraud, theft, or unfair business practices, report the situation to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), Social Security Administration, Attorney General, or your local law enforcement agency.

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