new york | new jersey consumer fraud attorneys
Companies often resort to underhanded tactics that put customers and even workers at risk. Consumer fraud not only damages people’s trust in specific industries over time, but the victims may also suffer severe consequences. These can range from financial loss to injuries to even death. Thankfully, New Jersey protects its residents with some of the toughest laws in the country. Hiring an experienced New Jersey lawyer puts you in a much better position to take advantage of these protections.
Identifying Consumer Fraud
Consumer fraud occurs when a company, bank, an insurance company, financial institution, or other entity violates the law by lying to the public through deceptive advertising or placing a poorly manufactured or defective product into the stream of commerce.
Victims of consumer fraud have the legal right to seek compensation and justice in a court through a consumer fraud claim. The Federal Trade Commission provides protections under the Federal Trade Commission Act to consumers who have suffered abuses due to consumer fraud and unfair business practices.
Common Types of Consumer Fraud
There are dozens of consumer fraud examples that Schmierer Law Group handles on a regular basis. However, some of these occur more frequently than others.
Sadly, mortgage fraud is on the rise. What makes this type of fraud even worse is that companies often specifically target vulnerable homeowners in desperate situations. Mortgage and real estate professionals are generally behind schemes like these:
- Foreclosure rescue schemes
- Loan modification schemes
- Equity skimming
Credit and Debit Card Fraud
According to the Insurance Information Institute, credit card fraud almost doubled in 2018. This is the most common form of identity theft and is one of the top consumer fraud complaints. In some cases, hackers gain access to people’s personal information or accounts and make purchases. However, there are also instances when companies make unauthorized charges on customers’ cards or charge more than they should.
Insurance fraud occurs when an insurance company has a policyholder who suffers an injury, property loss or disaster, and the insurance company fraudulently tells the policyholder that their losses and damages are not covered under the policy. Consequently, the insurance company refuses to pay these victims, even though they paid for coverage and their insurance policy should cover them.
If a seller of a vehicle fails to disclose the true condition of a vehicle, such as the inaccuracy of an odometer reading or the fact it was previously in an accident, this rises to the level of consumer fraud. In other cases, a dealership may promise certain financial options or refuses a trade-in as previously promised.
Any misrepresentation or fraud dealing with trading or investments can result in consumer fraud that is reportable to federal regulatory agencies. One famous example of this is the penny stock scandal that took place from 2008 to 2013. According to the FBI, the mastermind behind this plan duped customers into paying just $5 per share in shell companies, which ultimately netted him millions of dollars.
Other Examples of Fraud
Some other examples of consumer fraud include the following:
- Defective or faulty products in the stream of commerce
- Unfair repair practices
- Certain multi-level marketing schemes
- Truth-In-Lending Act violations
- Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act violations
- Breaches of contract
Consequences of Consumer Fraud
As a consumer, you have the right to rely on what companies tell you regarding products and services. Any fraud on the part of a business or entity should be met with serious consequences and repercussions. If you feel that you were a victim of fraud due to unscrupulous, unethical or fraudulent behavior on the part of a company or business entity, you have the legal right to pursue the money you spent on the product or receive restitution under the law.
Under New Jersey’s consumer protections, injured parties or their survivors may have the opportunity to recover up to three times the damages suffered. If your case is successful, the defendant could also become liable for the legal fees you paid to present your case. Here are some of the many businesses and contracts affected by New Jersey’s Consumer Fraud Act:
- Home appliances service and repair
- Banks and lending institutions
- Real estate sales and services
- Employment agency contracts
- Kosher and halal foods
- Pet purchases
How To Handle Consumer Fraud
You may feel that a specific transaction included consumer fraud or believe that your insurance company is not upholding its obligations contractually under your insurance policy. Whatever the situation, it is important to act swiftly. Note that consumer fraud cases generally carry statutes of limitations. When that period expires, it could become impossible to seek damages. Here are important steps to follow.
1. Gather Evidence
It’s important to collect all the information while you can. If some information is contained in an online account owned by the accused, download it and save it somewhere safe. Otherwise, the business or individual could close the account or restrict access.
2. Contact an Attorney
Once you have collected evidence, only an attorney can confirm if you have a strong enough case to move forward with a suit. The Schmierer Law Group may even have information on existing cases or class action suits against the company.
3. File a Suit
The attorneys at Schmierer Law Group can walk you through the process of preparing the documents you need to file a suit and discuss all your options. Sometimes this involves filing a police report. Every case is different and a good attorney adjusts his process accordingly.
How an Experienced Attorney Can Help You
Companies often do not treat customers with the level of respect they should. They often run afoul of consumer fraud laws by refusing to listen to complaints or address grievances. Some companies even take a more active role in defrauding customers by deliberately presenting false or misleading information. Whatever the reason you feel that you were a victim of consumer fraud, visiting with an experienced attorney can ensure your legal rights are protected.
Learn how the experienced attorneys at the Schmierer Law Group can help you today and help answer your questions related to your experience involving consumer fraud. If you have a valid case, we welcome the opportunity to represent you and ensure you receive justice. Contact us today!