Consumer Rights

Have you received a phone call or text message soliciting a product or service that you did not want? Of course, you have. We all have. But what did you do about it? You probably just hung up annoyed. You can do more. Federal and Connecticut law both prohibit sales calls for people on the “Do Not Call” registry and prohibit “robocalls” (phone calls featuring a pre-recorded voice message) subject to a few narrow exceptions.

Telephone Consumer Protection Act

The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), codified at 47 U.S.C. 227, prohibits sales calls to residential phone numbers without prior consent and also unsolicited advertisements via fax and email (SPAM). It does not prohibit sales calls to businesses.

Connecticut’s state version of the TCPA encompasses more than the federal law. Under Conn. Gen. Stat. Sec. 52-570c, no person or entity may robocall anyone in Connecticut for the purpose of advertising or selling goods and services. It also regulates email advertisements and prohibits such messages after a recipient has asked to not receive future advertisements (opted out).

The federal and state laws both allow for private action (lawsuits) to enforce these laws in courts. The federal law allows for damages of $500 to $1500 per violation plus attorney’s fees. The state law also provides for $500 per violation but, as of 2014, such unwanted communications also constitute unfair trade practices under CUPTA and allow for damages of up to $20,000 plus attorney’s fees.

If you receive unwanted calls and/or text messages, write down the number, time of the call and all information about the call (company, product or service). Then call or email me. Your communications are not unwanted.

Fair Credit Reporting Act

Credit reports are integral to personal finances and transactions. Home mortgages, business loans, credit cards, car loans and residential leases are a few among many items that may be denied or at least impacted (through unfavorable rates) by a credit score or report. It is thereby paramount that credit reporting be accurate. Credit reporting agencies are governed by a federal law, the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), to ensure that they engage in fair and accurate practices. Consumers have a right to know what is in their credit history (as seen in TV commercials) as well as to dispute and correct any errors. The users of credit reports as well as those who report to credit agencies (including creditors) also have responsibilities under the FCRA.

Consumers may assert their rights and collect damages for violations of the FCRA through actions in state or federal court. Like the FDCPA and other consumer protection laws, the FCRA allows for attorney fees to be awarded.

It is important to request and review your credit report for any errors or other suspicious items. Items in a credit report may be the result of errors or abuses in debt collection. See the pages on debt collection lawsuits and the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act for more information. Please contact me to discuss any case you may have involving debt collection or credit reporting issues.

Have you been harassed by debt collectors?

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The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) is a federal law that prohibits abusive and unethical practices by debt collectors (also known as collection agencies)–individuals and companies who seek to collect debts on behalf of another person or company. Debt collectors often use phone calls and letters to communicate with people they believe in owing debts, and may threaten legal action and reports to credit agencies in those collection efforts. The FDCPA also contains rules and requirements that debt collectors must follow. Violations of the FDCPA can be asserted in state or federal court and allow for the awarding of attorneys’ fees and damages.

Prohibited debt collection practices include:

  • Harassing and abusive language or conduct
  • Using false or misleading information. Includes threats of criminal action, threats of nonjudicial action, impersonation of an attorney, failure to provide accurate information about the debt.
  • Adding charges or other fees on top of the principal of the debt.
  • Any other unfair, deceptive or abusive practices.

If you have been contacted by a debt collector, call me so that we can evaluate the collection practices as well as develop a plan to challenge the debt so that you do not pay more than you are required to. See the page on debt collection lawsuits.

Unfair Trade and Business Practices

Businesses have to be on the level. When they do things that screw consumers, they may be engaging in unfair trade practices in violation of state and federal law. Connecticut prohibits and allows a legal action for unfair trade practices under the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act (CUTPA). Such unfair practices include false and misleading advertising, empty guarantees, price manipulation, “bait and switch” and more.  The failure of a business to adhere to certain legal requirements regarding refund fees, payment plans and other contractual terms could also be violations of CUTPA.

CUTPA provides for the recovery of actual damages as well as punitive damages and attorneys’ fees. If you think that you were the victim of an unfair business practice, contact me so that we can discuss your situation and determine whether you have a case.

Fraud, Misrepresentation, and Scams

Honesty is the best policy. Unfortunately, some people act dishonestly and deceitful and rip off others. Fraud (or intentional misrepresentation) is the tort in which a defendant makes a false statement to a plaintiff with the intent that the plaintiff acts on it and that the plaintiff does act on it to his or her injury. Negligent misrepresentation is similar to fraud in that a defendant supplied a plaintiff with false information to induce some sort of an action and was careless in obtaining or conveying that information.

These issues arise in many situations in which someone lost money, from straight-up scams to failed business deals.

In some cases, fraud and misrepresentation lead to criminal charges. In most others, it remains a civil matter–the person who was defrauded must sue to recover his or her damages. In these types of cases, a plaintiff may be able to recover punitive damages in addition to the money lost.

Fraud, misrepresentation, and contract claims are the common law actions for cases involving deceit and shady business. Additionally some statutory claims (based on state or federal laws) that provide for attorneys’ fees may also be available. If you think you have been ripped off, contact me.

Consumer Rights Attorney in Connecticut

Unfortunately, in today’s society, unscrupulous businesses often take advantage of people. It’s called swindling, but consumers have recourse in Connecticut. Attorney Christopher DeMatteo has years of experience helping consumers who have been harassed or unfairly treated, and he will listen to your story and help you recover. Contact Chris for a free consultation.