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Consumer Rights are Protected by Law
Consumer rights are violated every day by companies that intentionally engage in unethical and illegal practices including scams and fraud. There are tons of businesses who take advantage of consumers on the assumption that average people donít know their rights, donít know what do to protect themselves or donít know how to force the company to live up to their expectations and promises.
There are some companies that honestly are not aware of consumer rights laws and they unintentionally violate the rights of consumers. They may need a wake up call, while the companies that intentionally trample the rights consumers just need to be stopped in their tracks.
If you feel that your consumer rights have been violated, it is time to consult with a consumer rights attorney. An attorney who specializes in consumer rights will know right away whether or not you have a case that is worthy of pursuing. If the case wonít hold water in a lawsuit, but it is just wrong, the attorney may be able to direct you to an organization that can help you out or give you advice that will help to resolve the issue.
The First Step
If you feel that you have been ripped off, first of all, contact the seller. Most sellers are aware of consumer rights and they will do their best to live up to your expectations. If they donít, contact them in writing and then file a complaint with the government agency that regulates the type of transaction. Start documenting communications, both verbal and in writing. Documentation can play a big part if the issue ends up going to court.
Filing a complaint may make you feel better, but in most cases, filing a complaint will not bring any restitution.
In the United States, most federal laws concerning consumer rights are enforced by the Federal Trade Commission or the United States Department of Justice. There are also state laws, such as state lemon laws, that are aimed at protecting consumer rights. If your transaction falls under state law, you can report the infringement to the stateís Department of Consumer Affairs or to the stateís Attorney Generalís office.
If your loss is significant, a lawsuit is in order. In such cases, it is definitely beneficial to have a consumer rights attorney to present your case to the court. From time to time, participating in a dispute resolution program is recommended before actually filing a lawsuit. At any rate, an attorney can provide reliable advice and guidance throughout the process.
If Filing a Complaint Doesnít Bring Restitution, Why Bother?
The government agencies need to hear from consumers concerning unfair practices. Otherwise, they wonít know what to look for or what to address. When there are a lot of complaints about a practice, like debt collections and credit repair scams, eventually laws are passed to protect consumers. If there are a lot of complaints against an individual company and the complaint actually violates an existing law, your complaint may help to prompt enforcement. In addition, such agencies provide educational information to consumers to help them to avoid such practices.
Where Does Restitution Come From?
In many cases, a lawsuit is required in order for the consumer to be reimbursed. From time to time, there are case action suits in which you will be contacted in regard to illegal actions that are suspected in one of your transactions. Occasionally, the company will recognize that they have violated your consumer rights in an internal audit or a regulatory audit, and they will take action to make it right.
Consumer Rights Laws in Action
There are several consumer laws that are aimed to protect consumer rights. For instance, there are laws concerning product liability, misrepresentations and fraud, as well as unfair business practices (like calling you day and night for debt collection or infringing on your right to privacy), just to name a few.
As a consumer, it is not your responsibility to identify which law was violated, your attorney can do that, but it is your duty to take action if you feel that your rights have been disregarded.
By doing so, you may receive restitution which will make the wrong-doing right, and your action may prevent other consumers from going through the same unfair, unethical or illegal practices.
How Much Will Representation by a Consumer Rights Attorney Cost?
Some attorneys charge a retainer (an upfront payment for their services) while others work on contingent contracts (taking a percentage of the amount awarded). In some cases, you might even find an attorney who will take the case pro bono (for free) if they are committed to protecting the public and your case represents a practice that is highly against the good of consumers.
The best way to know what the costs will be is to contact a consumer rights attorney for a consultation. Most attorneys offer a free consultation which will give them the opportunity to review your claims, to decide whether or not the case is worth pursuing, and to estimate the amount of time it will take. The cost of representation is usually based on the time that it will take and the expenses. You can leave the consultation with an estimate of the cost that you will be responsible for. In many cases, if you win, the other party can be held responsible for court costs and attorney fees.
As a consumer, you do have rights and it is your duty to protect them. If you feel that you have been wronged, it certainly wonít hurt to run your situation by a consumer rights attorney to find out whether or not your consumer rights have been violated and whether or not that violation can result in restitution.
Never assume that the costs of an attorney are too expensive for you. You may just be surprised. When it comes to consumer rights, there are many attorneys, organizations and government agencies that are dedicated to protecting consumers. An attorney can provide you with sound knowledge and directed guidance that is needed to protect you and your consumer rights against scams, fraud and unethical business practices. By taking action, you might even prevent others from suffering from the infringement on their consumer rights.