- Consumer Transactions: Here's How You're Protected
- August 11, 2017
Consumer protection laws exist to (among many other things) prevent the use of low-quality materials in products, stop unethical practices and ensure that consumers (nationwide) who are the victims of wrongful business practices can receive justice. Whenever you buy, lease or invest in something, regularly pay for a service, respond to advertisements, use utilities, credit cards, or participate in any other kind of consumer transaction or activity, chances are this activity is regulated to keep you protected. And New Jersey proudly boasts some of America’s most stringent, consumer-oriented protection laws on the books; most of which can be found within our Consumer Fraud Act (N.J.S.A. 56:8-1, et. seq.). Keeping consumers safe is both a Federal and Statewide priority, that’s why the Courts are dedicated to enforcing these statutes in favor of consumers to the fullest extent, as permitted by law.
However, even though consumers are greatly protected by the government, we don’t always get what we bargained for. Whether it’s defective products, services or scams — transactions can go wrong. Making well-informed decisions about money is crucial, and you should always be saving receipts, advertisements, contracts, credit card slips and other documents relient on purchases — even those little everyday purchases. Should you ever find yourself involved in a consumer fraud claim or even a class action suit (a lawsuit in which a group of people have experienced the same or similar injuries from a product or service), these documents will come in handy. It often takes nothing more than a receipt for you to participate in a class recovery and receive compensation, big or small. In some cases, however, particularly if the amount involved from your end is significant in a class recovery, it may be more beneficial to opt out of the class, and have your attorney pursue your claim.Typically, class action suits involve large corporations or businesses with “deep pockets,” which means the litigation process can be hefty — for both the consumer as well as the attorney pursuing the claim. Fortunately, our Federal and State consumer protection laws are designed to alleviate these circumstances. In fact, New Jersey’s Consumer Fraud Act states that any consumer who proves a violation to the Act and demonstrates an “ascertainable loss” (or a clear, measureable loss of some kind) because of that violation, is automatically entitled to recover compensation for triple that loss, plus the legal expenses involved (including attorney’s fees). For specific instances, like the Motor Vehicle “Lemon” Law or the Kosher Food Statute, additional remedies are often provided to address the distinct loss.