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The consumer rights provided by the consumer protection law enable individuals to fight against the unethical business practices. The United States consumer protection laws are advanced considering the rise of consumer awareness not only in the domestic markets but also in the international business. The law is formulated to hold the providers of goods and services accountable for any harm to the consumer resulting from taking advantage of their lack of information and bargaining power. The laws are applicable to a wide scope of operations ranging to those termed as simply unfair to those considered as fraudulent acts against the consumers. Consumer rights are very significant in the progress of the economy, and they should be protected by all means.
Consumer protection law in United States is enforced by the Federal Trade Commission, which is committed to protecting the America’s consumers through the Bureau of Consumer Protection. The bureau performs its mandate of preventing the unfair, abusive, and fraudulent business practices across all the states to guarantee consumers protection from exploitation by providers of goods and services. It protects consumers from all the sectors of the economy by ensuring all the manufacturers and providers of the products and services operate by the law. Through the federal rule-making authority bestowed on the Bureau by the Constitution, it has the power to issue industry regulation to regulate the operations of all the industries in the economy.
The consumer protection law in the United States involves three main roles of protecting the consumers, maintaining fair competition in the economy, and prosecution of the defaulters of the provided regulations. The consumer’s rights are protected by the law through prevention of fraud, deception or unfair business activities in the entire economy. On the other hand, the consumer protection laws maintain fair competition in the marketplace through prevention of anticompetitive mergers and other business practices that hinder fair business competition. Finally, the consumer protection laws are enforced by the federal and state legislatures with the aim of punishing the law breakers.
The Federal Trade Commission has numerous statutes that are enforced with the aim of protecting the American consumers. The statutes are grouped into categories relating to competition in the business and consumer protection missions arising from these business operations. The statutes established in the consumer protection law include;
Federal Trade Commission Act
The Act empowers the Federal Trade Commission to prevent unfair forms of competition in the economy. It is used while seeking monetary compensation for the injured consumers, prescribing the relevant trade regulations in the business practices, conducting investigations relating to business practices undertaken by various institutions, and making legislative recommendations to the Congress for the possible remedies to rescue the situation. Through the enforcement of this act, the commission ensures that the industry competition is very fair, and consumers are fully protected by the law.
Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005
It is the amendment of the Truth in Lending Act whereby it has incorporated additional provisions, such as the requirement for creditors to disclose on the face of the billing statement a minimum monthly payment warning and a toll-free number maintained by the Commission. It will ensure that the consumers seeking critical information about their debt can access the information on time thus repaying the credit balances to avoid penalties.
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College Scholarship Fraud Prevention Act of 2000
The Act requires the Commission, the Attorney General, and the Secretary of Education to make annual report submission to the Congress analyzing the fraud cases in the provision of college education scholarships. The reports access the nature and number of the incidents compared to the previous year to ascertain the trend in fraudulent activities. The Commission is also required to maintain scholarship fraud awareness in the Department of Education website for the public to access details of such incidents.
Consumer Leasing Act
The Act is also an amendment of the Truth in Lending Act that regulates the private property leases that run for more than four years. It regulates the personal property leases that are made available to the consumers for personal, family or household uses. This statute provides for clear disclosure of the lease costs and the terms of the lease agreement especially in the lease advertisement to inform the consumer about the lease requirements before signing the lease contract. The Act also imposes a limitation on the amount of penalties that are charged in case of default by the consumer to avoid consumer exploitation.
The Acts are enforced by the Federal Trade Commission to ensure that the American consumers are fully protected by the law. The consumer protection law is enforced throughout all the states to ensure that the consumer rights are protected from undue violation by the providers of goods and services. The law is clear to protect consumer rights such as the right to satisfaction of basic needs and the right to safety. It ensures that the products and services availed to the consumers are well designed to meet this needs of consumers and the production processes for the products are not hazardous to consumer health.
The law also ensures that the consumers are well informed about the nature of the products to enable them to make the right choice. It is attained by ensuring that the consumer protection law protects the consumers against dishonest and misleading advertising and labeling of products. The consumers are allowed to make a choice from a wide range of products that are offered at competitive and fair prices with a guarantee for satisfactory products quality. Consumer interests should also be heard and addressed by incorporating them in the development of the products and services.
The consumer complaints are very significant in the consumer protection process since the producers are obliged to listen to the consumer complaints and respond accordingly to correct the situation. In cases where the consumer complaints are not corrected on time, the complainant can report the case to the Federal Trade Commission for further investigation and initiation of the prosecution of the defaulter. The consumer protection law compels the providers of products and services to offer education about the products to create awareness of any side effects of the products offered.
Consumer product safety is also ensured by maintaining a legal framework for the healthy business environment that prevents the consumers from the injuries of defective, harmful, expired or illegal products and services.
To conclude, despite the guarantee of consumer protection by the law, the consumers have critical responsibilities to play in ensuring that the intentions of the law are met. Such responsibilities include the critical awareness about questioning the quality of goods and services, involvement in ensuring that the business practices offer fair deals to consumers, acting with the sense of the society welfare at heart and acting in unison to champion for the adequate attention to consumer interest by the providers of products and services. It will ensure that their rights are adequately protected through the enforcement of the consumer protection statutes by the Federal Trade Commission.