Purchasing goods and services should be easy as they are fairly straight forward transactions. Most consumers enter into these transactions expecting that sellers will act honestly and reasonably and embrace the age old adage that “the customer is always right.” Sadly, the attorneys at The Robenalt Law Firm, Inc. know this doesn’t always happen.
However, Ohio consumers who purchase goods and services for personal, family or household use are entitled to various forms of protection under Ohio and federal law. Excessive banking fees and inappropriate charges in account statements are just two examples of consumer transactions that entitle consumers to take action. In some cases, Class Actions are required to remedy a wrong that has occurred to thousands of consumers.
Ohio & Federal Consumer Claims Laws
The following consumer claims laws protect innocent consumers against sellers who either take advantage of them or fail to act in a reasonable manner when a product is defective or a service transaction goes awry:
Consumer Sales Practices Act (CPSA). The CPSA protects consumers from unfair, deceptive or unconscionable acts or practices in connection with a consumer transaction. It prohibits sellers from misrepresenting the nature of their business, products or services, the price of their goods or the terms of a transaction. It also protects buyers who are illiterate, suffer from a mental or physical disability or cannot understand the terms of a sale from being taken advantage of by forcing sellers to honor guarantees, warranties and rain checks.
Credit Card Recording Act (CCRA). The CCRA protects consumers by prohibiting sellers from printing credit card expiration dates or more than five digits of a consumer’s credit card number on sales receipts.
Credit Services Organization Act (CSOA). The CSOA requires credit repair and debt counseling companies to provide consumers with a written statement of rights, a clear and accurate description of the services to be provided and the costs or services offered. In addition, consumers are entitled to a three day rescission period in which they can cancel the contract.
Debt Adjusters Act (DAA). The DAA requires that credit repair and debt counseling companies disburse consumer payments to the appropriate creditors within 30 days after of receiving funds. It also prohibits these companies from accepting: more than $75 for an initial consultation; more than $100 per year for consultation fees or contributions; and more than 8.5% of the amount paid by the consumer each month or $30, whichever is greater.
Defective Assistive Devices Act (DADA). The DADA requires companies who sell hearing aids, motorized scooters, talking software, wheelchairs and similar products to provide at least a one-year warranty covering the full cost of repair or replacement for products designed for disabled consumers.
Gift Card Act (GCA). The GCA requires gift cards with no expiration date to be valid until redeemed or replaced. It also makes it illegal for many other types of gift cards to expire in less than two years from the issue date and prevents the issuer from imposing service charges or fees during that time.
Homebuyer's Protection Act (HPA). The HPA, also referred to as the Ohio Predatory Lending Law, protects consumers from abusive lending practices committed by non-bank lenders such as mortgage brokers and loan officers.
Home Solicitation Sales Act (HSSA). The HSSA allows consumers a three day rescission period for any transaction of $25 or greater when the transaction occurs outside of the seller’s normal place of business such as a fair booth, in the consumer’s home or in a hotel. It also requires sellers to provide consumers with written notice of their rights and make any refunds within 10 days of cancellation.
Non-conforming New Motor Vehicle Law. Also known as the “Lemon Law,” this requires auto makers to repair or replace “lemon” vehicles within a reasonable period of time. A “lemon” is defined as a new motor vehicle that has a problem(s) covered by the warranty that substantially impairs the use, value or safety of the vehicle. The law applies to problems that arise within one year of purchase or 18,000 miles – whichever comes first.
Payday Lending Law. Also referred to as the Short-Term Lender Law, this strictly limits the total amount of interest that lenders may charge consumers in connection with a short-term “payday” loan and requires them to put details of the loan in writing.
Consumer Leasing Act. This Act requires written lease agreements of four months or more for property (for personal, family or household use) to include specific details about the lease such as payments, penalties and credit terms.
Credit Repair Organizations Act (CROA). The CROA, part of the Consumer Credit Protection Act, requires credit repair companies to provide consumers with disclosures about their services and prohibits deceptive business practices.
Electronic Funds Transfer Act (EFTA). The EFTA details the rights, responsibilities and liabilities of consumers and financial institutions regarding electronic funds transfers (EFTs). It requires financial institutions to disclose EFT terms and conditions, limits consumer liability for stolen and lost cards (generally limited to $50 if the financial institution is notified within two days), requires documentation of transfers and establishes rules on how to resolve EFT account errors.
Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA). The ECOA prohibits creditors from discriminating on the basis of sex, marital status, age, race, color, religion or national origin or against those who receive public assistance. It also prohibits creditors from disallowing certain types of income from applications and asking certain questions about marital status and children. Creditors must inform applicants whether they have been granted or denied credit within 30 days. In cases of the latter, creditors must provide a specific reason for the denial.
Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). The FCRA requires credit reporting agencies such as Experian, TransUnion and Equifax to follow reasonable procedures to ensure consumer credit reporting accuracy, investigate disputes and to provide consumer credit reports to third parties only under specific circumstances.
Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). The FDCPA prohibits third party collection agencies from harassing, threatening and abusing debtors or acting fraudulently when attempting to collect a debt. Consumers may be entitled to up to $1,000 in statutory damages and the payment of attorneys’ fees when creditors violate the Act.
Real Estate Settlement and Procedures Act (RESPA). The RESPA regulates real estate closing costs and settlement procedures by requiring certain disclosures governing escrow funds and making kickbacks illegal.
Truth in Lending Act (TLA). The TLA provides standards when it comes to the costs involved with lending. Lenders are required to provide consumers with disclosures regarding costs, credit terms and how to go about resolving billing errors.
Regardless of whether your situation involves Ohio consumer claim law, federal consumer claim law or both, you may be entitled to compensation.
Turn To an Experienced Cleveland Consumer Claims Lawyer for Help
Most consumer claim laws provide for compensation of actual damages (how much you actually lost), statutory damages (a limit set by statute which can amount to $1,000 per violation in some instances) and may require the lender / creditor / financial institution to pay your attorneys’ costs and fees.
If you have a consumer claim, turn to an experienced consumer claims lawyer who can help you obtain the damages for which you’re entitled.
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