Consumer Laws You Should Know

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Investopedia.com has posted an article that gives a good outline of consumer laws that you need to be familiar with to protect yourself.

– Warranties and Service Contracts:

Almost every piece of merchandise you can buy comes with some kind of warranty that basically gurantees it will work as described. Two types of warranties are included: the express warranty and the implied warranty. The express warranty comes directly from the seller and can be written and included with the item, oral, or seen in an advertisement and guarantees the item, whether purchased new or used, will function correctly for a given amount of time.

The implied warranty is automatically provided by the law. Implied warranties say that the retailer of the purchased item guarantees that it will work as long, as it’s used for the intended purpose, or you can return it. According to the Federal Trade Commission, an implied warranty can last up to 4 years. Whenever you buy something, it’s important that you get the specifics of the warranty in writing.

-“Dealing With a Warranty Breach”

Ana Gonzalez Ribeiro, writer of the article, says that:

If a warranty is breached, get the item replaced or repaired by the seller. If that doesn’t work, try resolving the dispute through mediation. If that fails you have the right to sue the manufacturer or seller. Service contracts cannot be canceled after you signed them, but according to the FTC, there is a cooling off period where under certain circumstances, you might be able to void a contract. Contact the Federal Trade Commission (FTC.gov) for information on the right way to approach your particular situation.

To file a complaint against a company or seller, you can contact the Consumer Product Safety Commission of the FTC or contact a local prosecutor and ask for the consumer fraud division.

– Avoid Scams
Scam artists always use whatever is happening to you for their advantage. For example, since the housing crisis began in 2008, there has been a surge of scams that posed as foreclosure “rescues” and ultimately caused homeowners to lose their equity. Social networking websites like Facebook have also made scamming more common for a consumer to experience and easier for a scam artist to pull off. To avoid being a victim of a scam, use a credit card when shopping online instead of a debit card. Debit cards offer much less protection and can give the scam artist access to your savings account as well.

– Watch Out for Scams
Closely watch your monthly bills for items that you may not have purchased. If you don’t recognize a transaction you should contact the billing company in writing. If you suspect it’s a fraudulent charge, let the credit card company know no later than 60 days after you notice the charge. Using a seperate email address for online shopping helps cut down on the amount of spam you receive. You should never respond to emails that ask you to “confirm” a recent transaction because it can be a phishing scam.

– Get the Facts
Monitoring your consumer report can be a huge help when trying to protect yourself. Many people only monitor their credit report and not their consumer report.

Under the Fair and Accurate Credit Transaction Act (FACTA) amendments to the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), you are entitled to a free copy of your consumer report, at your request, once every 12 months. Financial institutions use the information contained in this report to determine risk regarding bank accounts. Consumers usually find out about this report only after there has been negative information reported (mishandled accounts and so on).
Again, this report can be obtained annually for free from credit reporting agencies. It contains accounts opened in your name and checks ordered in your name. However, it is not the same as the free annual credit report. This report is a completely separate report that the mass majority of consumers only find out about after they have been declined by a financial institution to open a checking or savings account. The majority of banks and credit unions use the information contained in the report to approve, decline or determine what type of account if any can be opened at their financial institution. Consumers who have a negative report may not be able to open a checking or savings account for five years.

If you have had problems with consumer or credit reporting errors, or have been the victim of a scam, and have questions or concerns, feel free to contact us through our website or by calling 205-879-2447.

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