Consumer protection law is defined as a state or federal law designed to protect consumers against improperly described, damaged, faulty, and dangerous goods and services as well as from unfair trade and credit practices.
Federal and State Consumer Laws
There are several federal laws in place to protect you during routine business transactions. These laws include protections against illegal debt collection and credit reporting, bogus lending and banking practices, invasions of your telephone privacy, and relief for hard-earned money spent on defective vehicles and consumer products.
Each state also has its own consumer protection laws. Some of the most common state laws that protect consumer rights include repossession laws, employment and workplace rights laws, wage garnishment laws, unfair and deceptive practices laws, lemon laws, and landlord/tenant laws.
The following services are available under consumer protection law:
- Debt collector help
- Credit report problems
- Telephone and text harassment
- Class action investigations
- Employment rights and workplace violations
- Banking, loan, and auto payment violations
- Tenant rights and eviction help
- Lemon laws and auto sales rights
- Servicemember rights
- Personal injury
Arizona’s Consumer Fraud Act
In 1967, Arizona adopted its Consumer Fraud Act (the “Act”) “to root out and eliminate ‘unlawful practices’ in merchant-consumer transactions.” People ex rel. Babbitt v. Green Acres Trust, 127 Ariz. 160, 164, 618 P.2d 1086, 1090 (Ct. App. 1980).
The Act defines an unlawful practice as:
The act, use, or employment by any person of any deception, deceptive or unfair act or practice, fraud, false pretense, false promise, misrepresentation, or concealment, suppression or omission of any material fact with the intent that others rely on such concealment, suppression or omission, in connection with the sale or advertisement of any merchandise whether or not any person has in fact been misled, deceived or damaged thereby …
A.R.S. § 44-1522(A).
The terms used in A.R.S. § 44-1522(A) are defined in a “broad” manner and are “not subject to restrictive interpretation because the Act is general to be considered remedial in nature.” Id. at 164, 618 P.2d at 1090. For example:
- “‘Person’ means any natural person or his legal representative, partnership, domestic or foreign corporation, any company, trust, business entity, or association, any agent, employee, salesman, partner, officer, director, member, stockholder, associate, or trustee.” A.R.S. § 44-1521(6).
- “‘Sale’ means any sale, offer for sale, or attempt to sell any merchandise for any consideration, including sales, leases and rentals of any real estate subject to any form of deed restriction imposed as part of a previous sale.” A.R.S. § 44-1521(7).
- “‘Advertisement’ includes the attempt by publication, dissemination, solicitation or circulation, oral or written, to induce directly or indirectly any person to enter into any obligation or acquire any title or interest in any merchandise.” A.R.S. § 44-1521(1).
- “‘Merchandise’ means any objects, wares, goods, commodities, intangibles, real estate, or services.” A.R.S. § 44-1521(5).
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
In 1914, the U.S. Congress passed legislation creating the FTC, primarily in an effort to combat trusts and anti-competitive business practices. While the agency continues that effort, its role has since been expanded to cover a variety of consumer rights issues. The FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection is tasked with enforcing federal laws dealing with unfair or deceptive practices throughout the consumer economy. For instance, the bureau has taken an important step to curb telemarketing fraud through the creation of the National Do Not Call Registry. This popular service allows people to bar for-profit organizations from making unsolicited calls to their home telephones.
If you believe a merchant has violated your consumer rights, contact Arizona Attorney Lawyers today. You may be able to collect financial compensation and send a message to the offender that abusive business practices will not be tolerated.