Consumer Complaints and Protection

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Consumer protections laws exist to ensure that consumers are protected from unfair and anti-competitive practices in the marketplace. Consumer protection laws require that businesses provide consumers with truthful information about the products they manufacture and sell. Consumer protection policies are enforced by federal, state, and local agencies.

Consumer Protection Complaints

Consumer protection laws govern not only products, but services and business practices, including debt collection practices. According to a Scripps Howard Report, between January 2007 and May 2009, the Federal Trade Commission received close to 228,000 complaints about debt collectors. Consumer protection complaints are also frequently made in relation to:

  • Auto Fraud;
  • Lemon Law Violations;
  • Binding Mandatory Arbitration Clauses in Contracts;
  • Credit Reporting Problems;
  • Predatory Lending Practices;
  • Identify Theft;
  • Military Consumer Rights Violations;
  • Student Loan Collection Abuses; and
  • Foreclosure Rescue and Loan Modification Scams.

Filing A Consumer Protection Complaint

Consumer protection complaints can be lodged with federal agencies, state and local agencies, and private consumer protection groups. You should be prepared to provide the consumer protection agency you contact with as much information as possible, including:

  • Whether your complaint involves a product, service, or business practice;
  • The name, address, and phone number of the company against whom you are filing the complaint;
  • The name(s) of the person(s) with whom you've spoken about the product, service, or business practice;
  • Copies of all written correspondence between you and the company;
  • How much you paid for the product or service;
  • The date you purchased the product or service; and
  • How you've been damaged or injured as a result of the product, service, or business practice.

Consumer Protection Agencies

At the federal level, the Federal Trade Commission handles the vast majority of consumer protection complaints. However, complaints can also be lodged with the following federal agencies which have the authority to enforce consumer protection policies and laws:

AGENCY NAME

PHONE NUMBER

WEBSITE

Consumer Product Safety Commission

1-800-638-2772

www.cpsc.gov

Environmental Protection Agency

202-260-5922

www.epa.gov

Food and Drug Administration

301-827-4420

www.fda.gov

Federal Communications Commission

202-632-7553

www.fcc.gov

Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation

1-800-934-3342

www.fdic.gov

Securities and Exchange Commission

1-800-732-0330

www.sec.gov

 

Consumer protection complaints can be made at the state level by contacting the Office of the Attorney General for your state. Visit http://www.naag.org/attorneys_general.php to find the Attorney General in your state. You can also file a complaint by contacting your state consumer protection office. Visit http://www.consumeraction.gov/state.shtml to find the consumer protection office in your state.

Consumer Protection Groups

There are many private consumer rights associations and watch dog groups which provide information, advice and other consumer protection services. These consumer protection groups work tirelessly to gather current and accurate information about scams, abusive business practices, and dangerous products and to educate consumers about their rights and the available consumer protection services. Following are a few consumer rights associations:

  • The Better Business Bureau;
  • National Consumer Law Center;
  • Partnership for Safe Medicines;
  • Center For Responsible Lending; and
  • U.S. Public Interest Research Group.

Getting Legal Consumer Protection Help

If you believe you have been the victim of unfair, abusive, or deceptive business practices, you should consult with an experienced consumer protection attorney. A qualified consumer protection attorney will evaluate your case to determine whether you have a valid claim and, if you do, will advise you on an appropriate course of action.

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