Consumer protection is an umbrella term used to describe various laws designed to safeguard the interests of consumers in a multitude of transactions and settings. These statutes and regulations, many of which are under the Federal Trade Commission Bureau of Consumer Protection oversight, generally target businesses and their conduct in dealing with customers. Consumer protection acts apply to many different topics, from health care and product safety to telecommunications and monopolies.
Some key consumer protection laws focus on financial dealings, which is why it’s essential for Florida business owners to have an understanding of how they work. Your Clearwater business law attorney will handle the details, but an overview may be helpful.
Three Key Financial Consumer Protection Acts:
You may not be aware of them by name, you’re probably familiar with some of the legal requirements for companies. The three most important statutes that you may touch on in your business dealings include:
- Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA): Recognizing the need to promote accuracy, fairness, and privacy of information controlled by consumer reporting agencies, the key provisions of FCRA ensure that only accurate details are listed. This is the law that allows consumers access to their credit reports and legal options for getting negative, false information off their credit history.
- Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA): This law was designed to address some of the abuses and imbalanced practices that agencies were using to collect debts from consumers back in the 1970s. FDCPA prohibits agencies from:
- Calling after designated hours;
- Contacting your employer after being advised not to;
- Making false or misleading statements in collecting a debt;
- Using threats or profanity; and,
- Many other types of harassing, offensive conduct.
In addition, there are certain legal requirements for companies in attempting to obtain payment. Agencies must identify themselves, provide information regarding consumer rights, and comply with other obligations. Note that FDCPA applies to credit agencies who are attempting to collect on behalf of the original creditor. It does NOT apply to a business trying to get paid directly from a customer.
- Truth in Lending Act (TILA): This consumer protection act is intended to help individuals better understand their rights and responsibilities when they sign a credit agreement. TILA requires lenders to make certain disclosures, including details on loan terms and the costs associated with borrowing funds. It applies to open-end credit accounts, such as credit cards and lines of credit – as well as closed-end loans like mortgages and auto loans.
Set Up a Consultation with a Clearwater Business Law Attorney
This summary of key consumer protection acts may be helpful, but it’s important to work with an experienced lawyer to ensure you’re in compliance with the law. Our team at Clearwater Business Law can assist and answer questions about the legal requirements, so please call (727) 785-5100 today to schedule an appointment. We provide legal support to business clients in Pinellas County, FL and throughout the area, so we’re knowledgeable about the laws that affect your interests.