Find a Consumer Protection Lawyer

With the many types of fraud happening every day and the credit industry continuing to pick up speed, consumer protection is something we all should be aware of. Credit is the act of buying goods without paying for them in full right away. Credit comes in many forms, as credit cards, loans, retail cards, and financing--and it's almost always plastic.

The Consumer Protection Act states that consumers must be made aware of the credit terms of the company. Consumers must have access to information concerning how the credit company will operate so that there can be no hidden charges or actions. The Act also overlaps with civil rights, including prohibiting discrimination, and it provides consumers with protection from sharks and limits the garnishing of wages.

Consumer law also protects the consumer by limiting the kinds of claims companies can put on their products, such as claims about what the product can and cannot do.


Contracts

We encounter contracts almost every day. Every time you sign you debit or credit card slip after a purchase you are signing a contract. Your signature makes that receipt a legally binding document saying that you agree to pay the amount stated. Contracts are widely used across many markets so it is important to know what your rights are when signing one.

Oral vs. Written

An oral agreement is and can be a contract, but it's harder to prove than a written contract is. If something is important, get it in writing! Something that shows the parties were both in agreement. When getting a written contract, be sure to get the signature of the person who is being held to the contract. The contract means nothing without a signature. Even if a friend writes an IOU for money he or she owes you, make sure you both sign the paper. Some documents need authentication from a notary, although this is not always legally necessary nor is it as widely used as it once was.

Agents

Agents are people who sign on your behalf or the behalf of a company. You can elect an agent to sign for you under certain circumstances such as illness. Real estate and insurance agents are examples of business agents. They do the contractual signing on behalf of the company and their authority is limited.

Your signing rights

If you are signing two contracts, one copy for you and another copy for the other party, be sure to carefully read each one. They may be slightly different and one my contain terms that you do not agree with. Make alterations to any contract where you do not agree. It is legal to make adjustments. Have the other party sign as well, and then get a copy. If they will not sign and you stand by your terms, then walk away. Fill in any blank spaces on a contract with a line or marking of some kind, the same way you would on a check, so that items cannot be added once you leave.

Do not sign any paper on promises. An example of this would be if a seller makes a promise to extend a warranty or throw in services or specials upon signing. Anything agreed upon that pertains to the contract but is not in it should be added in writing. If the other party refuses to put those promises in writing, walk away from the deal. In a world that is run on consumerism and credit rating, it can sometimes seem like it is us against them. Just remember that as a consumer you have rights, choices and options.

Things to consider
  • The statute of limitations on a contract is 6 years.
  • When bringing a contract case to court it is important to know that the law will never enforce an illegal contract, such as a contract that involves drugs, prostitution, gambling, contract killing, etc.
  • Have a lawyer look over any contract that involves a large sum of money. Such as a real estate contract.

By Jeanne Rongitsch           


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