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Consumer Protection



Here at Fortman Law, we cover a variety of issues that fall under consumer protection, including but not limited to receiving unsolicited phone calls or unsolicited text messages, unlawful business practices, and fraud. We’ll go over what each of these issues involves, starting with unsolicited phone calls or texts. You can jump to the unlawful business practices and fraud section.

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Consumer protection law is an expansive area of law that is primarily in place to protect your privacy and rights as a consumer. There are hundreds, maybe thousands of pages of legal text encompassing consumer protection laws. All of which are designed to promote two main goals:

  • To protect consumers’ privacy and identity.

  • To protect consumers from unfair or deceitful actions.

Consumer protection law exists on both the federal and state level. In addition to the federal laws, each state has its own consumer protection law (some more expansive than others). At a federal level, consumer protection law is managed by the Bureau of Consumer Protection and overseen by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The Consumer Protection Bureau sets and enforces rules and regulations for every commercial transaction. It also places restrictions on how businesses may handle the transfer and security management of consumers’ personal information. On a daily basis, most of us are consumers (often multiple times a day). The rapid expansion of technology has made it easy for us to “consume” and has put stress on consumer protection laws. As such, this area of law is ever-evolving (albeit much slower than technology).

It is important that if you feel your consumer rights have been violated, call us! We can help.

Some Common Areas of Consumer Protection Law:

DECEPTIVE ADVERTISING - General

Deceptive advertising is when images and words used in print, digital format, or video advertisements directly or indirectly imply claims about products which aren’t true or omit necessary information for a full understanding of the truth.

According to the Federal Trade Commission and consumer protection practices:

Product names, pricing, and claims must not mislead consumers.

Mostly, anything that would affect consumers’ behavior or decisions about the product or service must be truthful.

This includes:

  • Product packaging,

  • labeling,

  • brochures,

  • advertisements,

  • digital media

DECEPTIVE ADVERTISING – Dietary Supplements & Weight-Loss Products

Additionally, the FTC has created an advertising guide for dietary supplements and weight-loss products to outline what marketers may and may not do when promoting their product’s health benefits.

DECEPTIVE ADVERTISING – Environmental Claims

The Federal Trade Commission stipulates that environmental claims should be specific, truthful, and backed up with evidence.

Some commonly used environmental terms used are words like “biodegradable,” “recyclable,” or “Non-toxic.”

However, to remain compliant with Consumer Protection Laws, such claims need to be proven with certifications or clear explanations as to how they achieve that environmental claim. If you’d like to know more about what environmental claims can and cannot be made, take a look at the FTC’s “Green Guides.” This is the FTC’s guideline marketers must follow to remain compliant with Consumer Protection Laws when making environmental promises.

DECEPTIVE ADVERTISING – Country of Origin

The country of origin for a product implies an expected standard and perceived value which can affect a consumer’s purchasing habits. It’s for this reason that misleading origin claims are deceptive and in violation of Consumer Protection Laws.

THE CAN-SPAM ACT

The CAN-SPAM Act protects consumers from what may be considered spam or unwanted electronic communications by enforcing communication requirements such as:

  • Providing accurate subject lines which do not mislead the reader

  • Allowing readers an easy way to opt-out of receiving messages (and honoring their decision by opting them out)

  • Senders displaying their business’ physical location,

  • Senders must state who they are and their intentions.

So, next time you receive an unwanted email from someone you already unsubscribed from, know that they are in violation of the law and that you have every right to pursue them legally may they continue to ignore your “unsub” request.

TELEMARKETING SALES RULES

Strict laws are in place to protect consumers from unfair and deceitful actions taken by telemarketers, outlined in a piece of legislature known as the Telephone Consumer’s Protection Act, or TCPA.

These laws ensure that consumers are not harassed, deceived, or mistreated by telemarketers. They cover topics such as:

  • Robocalls, or automated dialing systems;

  • Automated Text Messages;

  • The National Do Not Call Registry List

  • When and how a telemarketer may contact you

If you have been harassed by an automated phone call or text message, contact us! You may be entitled to up to $1,000 per instance of contact.