Consumer Law is a legal area that covers a large body of laws passed by the government to protect consumers by regulating many of the following business transactions and practices: advertising, sales and business practices; product branding; mail fraud; sound banking and truth in lending; quality produce and meats; housing material and other product standards; and all manner of different types of consumer transactions.
Some states also regulate door-to-door sales, abusive collection practices, and referral and promotional sales.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) was initially established to prevent unfair methods of competition in commerce, but after 1938 its scope grew to include consumer protection law oversight as well.
Most states have established some consumer protection agency. These laws have been created on both the state and federal level.
Various Federal Acts address different aspects of consumer protection.
The Consumer Credit Protection Act (CCPA), also referred to as the federal Truth in Lending Act, regulates the credit industry concerning consumer rights, which includes credit card companies and credit reporting agencies, as well as loan sharks and wage garnishment.
The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) regulates credit reporting agencies and those who use them.
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act was added to the CCPA in 1978 to abolish abusive collection practices and give consumers a means to dispute inaccurate debt information.
The Fair Credit Billing Act was added to the CCPA in 1975 to deal with billing practices in credit accounts.
The Magnuson-Moss Act of 1973 deals with standards for product warranties, both implied and express. And to address the growing crime of identity theft, Congress enacted the Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act, signed into law in 1998.
The practice of consumer law includes pursuing lawsuits for consumers who have been the victims of unlawful business and credit practices, identity theft lawsuits, and defending debt collection agencies and other companies when accused of these violations.