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Some business transactions require a great deal of trust between all parties involved. When you’re a consumer, you often put a lot of faith in the person or company you’re buying from. You trust that the product is worth the price you’re paying for it, that the product is safe, and that it will effectively do what it’s supposed to.
Unfortunately, that trust can be misplaced. Consumer fraud can be a serious problem that can cost you a lot of money or even put you in danger if the product is defective. Here are some ways consumer fraud can happen and what you can do to fight against it.
Consumer fraud, in a general sense, is a misleading or ambiguous business transaction that can cost a consumer money. Some of the most common examples of consumer fraud are outlined below.
False advertising is when a seller claims their product can do something it can’t, displays a different price than what you’re charged at checkout, or a product looks or functions differently than promised. False advertising can take many forms, whether it’s through an online ad, a television commercial, a newspaper ad, and more.
Some of the signs to look for and recognize false advertising are:
Each state has its own laws addressing the penalties or false advertising, which can result in both criminal and civil courts. The Federal Trade Commission oversees false advertising issues on a national level. Always review return policies, warranties, and guarantees so you know your options if the product or service is defective.
Identity theft occurs when another person or other entity uses your personal information to access your finances. Common consequences of identity theft include accessing your bank accounts and withdrawing money, or taking out loans and credit cards in your name. Identify theft can happen when a business you provide your information to and they then mishandle, either by selling it to a third party or having lax security that can be easily breached. Some ways you can protect yourself against identity theft include:
Identity theft is usually a felony, but it can be hard to recover all your stolen money in a civil suit if the thief took a lot from you. That’s why it’s so important to stop identity theft from taking too much from you in the first place.
Phone and internet fraud occurs when a swindler contacts you by phone or online to try and sell a product or service that may not even exist. Other times, they may claim to represent a company you’re familiar with and trust, even though they don’t. The best ways to prevent falling victim to this kind of fraud include:
If you’ve been a victim of consumer fraud, or suspect you might have been, you have legal remedies available to you. The type of fraud you’ve experienced and the state you’re in may impact exactly what those remedies are. In some cases, you’ll need to follow federal laws instead of state laws. Working with a consumer fraud lawyer can help you understand your options for rectifying the situation.
This article is intended to be helpful and informative. But even common legal matters can become complex and stressful. A qualified consumer fraud lawyer can address your particular legal needs, explain the law, and represent you in court. Take the first step now and contact a local consumer fraud attorney to discuss your specific legal situation.