The concept of caveat emptor or buyer beware doesn’t apply when it comes to individuals who engage in deceptive business practices. There are two entities, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Better Business Bureau (BBB), that aim to protect consumers from business fraud. There are also many consumer protection laws on the books that protect Americans from unfair, deceptive and/or anti-competitive business practices.
Many businesses don’t treat their consumers equitably or fairly. Fortunately, the Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA) was instituted to address that. It’s a federal law that prohibits businesses from denying individuals credit solely based on their religion, race, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, age, marital status, national origin or belonging to any other protected class.
Another piece of federal legislation known as the Fair Credit Billing Act (FCBA) makes it necessary for companies to disclose to consumers why they’re being charged certain fees. This law aims to protect consumers from unauthorized or disputed charges.
The Fair Credit and Charge Card Disclosure Act (FCCDA) requires creditors to let their debtors know all the different terms and conditions that they’re subject to when applying for credit cards. Creditors are required to readily disclose annual and late fees as well as interest rates.
Another piece of legislation known as the Truth in Lending Act (TILA) requires lenders to disclose any fees that borrowers may have to pay back. All lenders must provide their borrowers with a calculation of the annual percentage rate (APR) and any other fees when they take out a car, personal or mortgage loan.
Any company that violates federal laws may be subject to fines and other penalties for doing so. You may want to consult with a consumer protection attorney if you believe that you have fallen victim to someone engaging in deceptive business practices. Your Charleston lawyer can advise you how both West Virginia and federal laws may allow you to file suit against the responsible party depending on the scope of the fraud that they committed.