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November 8, 2019 Uncategorized

Consumer Fraud Lawyer

What Creditors Should Know: Consumer Fraud Laws and Payday Lending

Short-term, low-dollar lending transactions are prevalent in today’s marketplace, particularly with budding digital payment options for consumers.  With consumer protection being a primary concern, the federal government has implemented regulation of payday lending that creditors and borrowers should keep in mind when transacting these types of loans. A New Jersey collection attorney can help you learn more about consumer fraud laws and payday lending.

A payday loan generally functions to fill a gap in between paychecks for an individual.  Loan size ranges from $100 to $1000.  The repayment period is brief, often one or two weeks or the time for a person to receive the next paycheck. The borrower must give the lender access to repayment through a claim on the borrower’s deposit account.

The Most Significant Consumer Fraud Laws and Regulations

If you operate a nonbank entity that engages in payday lending, your business will fall within the jurisdiction of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) despite not being a traditional financial institution.  It is therefore critical as a creditor to ensure lending activities and collection efforts comply with several federal consumer fraud laws and regulations. The regulations are numerous, but here are primary areas of enforcement for the CFPB:

The Truth in Lending Act’s (TILA) Regulation Z requires lenders to disclose pertinent transaction details to their borrowers.  For starters, initial disclosures should identify key loan terms such as the time for repayment and the annual percentage rate, which in some instances can be as high as 500%.  The lender also must provide periodic statements and advertising disclosures.  Creditors disclosing periodic statements and advertising disclaimers mitigate unfair and deceptive lending activity.  Those disclosures also allow consumers to be aware of their balance and distinguish between a promotion and an actual offer.

Regarding the loan application process, The Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA) requires a payday lender to notify the consumer of any adverse action taken on a loan application.  Regulation B of the ECOA also prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, marital status, age, receipt of public assistance, or the exercise of a right under the Consumer Credit Protection Act.

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPSA) also is implicated by payday lending activity.  The intent of the rule is to protect consumers against unfair collection practices and consequently, debt collectors are obligated to conduct their collection activities in accordance with several procedural requirements. See 15 U.S.C. 1692(d-f).

If the payday lender is in the business of reporting consumer information, in all likelihood to a subprime credit reporting agency, The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and its implementing regulation, Regulation V, require that a payday lender who provides information to consumer reporting agencies ensure the reported data is complete and accurate.  It is also imperative for the payday lender to take consumer disputes seriously and implement internal investigative procedures to track and evaluate those consumer disputes.  If you have affiliated companies, such as third party collection agencies, under your umbrella, there are limitations of sharing information between the lending entity and those affiliated companies.  There must always be a permissible purpose for furnishing this sensitive consumer information and you should consult with an attorney on your business practices to ensure compliance.

Enforcement of Federal Consumer Fraud Laws

Prior to Dodd-Frank, the FTC was the enforcing agency of consumer financial laws against payday lenders. A payday loan collector now is subject to enforcement by the CFPB and their enforcement authority is growing rapidly. Title X of Dodd-Frank granted the CFPB enforcement authority for payday lenders.  Enforcement actions primarily relate to deceptive activities in collection efforts and are a real risk for creditors.

For example, in July 2014, the CFPB took action against ACE Cash Express, which was prompted by a supervisory examination.  After an administrative proceeding, the CFPB found that ACE Cash Express used illegal debt collection tactics, including harassment and false threats of lawsuits or criminal prosecution, to pressure delinquent borrowers into taking out additional loans they could not afford.  Consequently, ACE Cash Express was required by the CFPB to provide $5M in refunds to wronged consumers and pay a $5M penalty.

See https://files.consumerfinance.gov/f/201407_cfpb_consent-order_ace-cash-express.pdf

The reach of the CFPB extends into jurisdictions where deceptive trade practices statutes apply already and even into affiliates of tribal nations.  In December 2013, the CFPB took action against CashCall, a servicer affiliate of a small-dollar lender affiliated with a Native American tribe, for attempting to collect debts that exceeded state usury caps or were otherwise void.  CashCall was making loans over the Internet to consumers in various states. While the CFPB did not sue the tribal lending entity itself, such entities are not exempt from the Dodd-Frank Act’s prohibition on unfair, deceptive, and abusive practices.

See https://www.consumerfinance.gov/about-us/newsroom/cfpb-sues-cashcall-for-illegal-online-loan-servicing/

CFPB enforcement aside, there is also the exposure of criminal charges should the pattern of behavior indicate criminal intent.

Advice for Lenders to Mitigate Risk of Violations of Consumer Fraud Laws

A payday loan creditor should develop a compliance risk management system, including internal controls and policies for its payday lending business.

Here are some assessments in order to mitigate risk:

  • Are the material terms of the payday loan clearly and prominently disclosed on advertising materials (e.g. conditions on promotional offers, rewards or discounts, and costs)?
  • Can the content or terms be construed to discriminate against a certain protected class?
  • Are telephone calls to consumer and online communications monitored or recorded?
  • Does the accounting department perform internal audits and are policies and procedures able to withstand audits around substantiating debts?
  • Do telephone call scripts treat consumers equitably?
  • What type of internal business process software do you have to improve record retention and bolster data security?
  • Do any criterion for assessing, extending, or denying credit result in a discriminatory effect?
  • If a consumer cannot repay the loan, do you allow the borrower to modify the loan or convert a balloon payment into an installment plan?
  • Do you provide the consumer with all repayment options available?
  • Have you evaluated policies and procedures for processing applications and qualifying applicants?
  • Do you review, track, and appropriately resolve consumer complaints regarding the collection of debts?
  • Do you clearly disclose to consumers that they are contacting the consumer about the collection of a debt?
  • Do you keep confidential the existence of a consumer’s debt, disclosing this information only with the consent of the consumer?

A payday lender in the course of reporting consumer information to credit bureaus should:

  • Maintain policies and procedures regarding data integrity and the accurate reporting of a consumer’s loan information to consumer reporting agencies.
  • Review, track, and appropriately resolve consumer complaints regarding the reporting of consumer data.

If you engage third-party service providers such as collection agencies or marketing firms, you should ensure that all service providers certify in writing that they will conduct all business activities on your behalf in a manner that is compliant with federal laws.

Other measures that a payday lender should take when engaging third-party service providers should include:

  • Methods for screening and hiring service providers.
  • Methods for sharing information in accordance with the FCRA affiliate marketing rule.
  • Evaluate its compliance management controls for the training of service provider employees, particularly if they are going to be performing work on-site.
  • Research any instances of wrongful disclosure of personal information.
  • In service agreements, include provisions for audit rights. Subsequently, conduct audits if issues occur and ensure agreements include an obligation to cooperate with audits.
  • Background checks for third-party service provider employees.
  • Confirm proper licensures and corporate registrations.
  • Research any prior regulatory compliance history such as enforcement action.
  • Confirm certification with data security controls.

Learn More About Consumer Fraud Laws and Payday Lending

Contact Snellings Law LLC, at 973.4265.6100 to schedule an initial consultation to discuss your debt collection, consumer fraud, or other business law matter.

Writ of Attachment Explained by a New Jersey Collection Lawyer

As a creditor there is a risk that the money a debtor owes you will go unpaid. This is especially true if the debtor files for bankruptcy. Civil court systems provide a number of tools permitting you to collect debt outside of a bankruptcy action. An experienced collection lawyer utilizes one such effective tool, called a writ of attachment.

Writ of Attachment Defined

 

A writ of attachment, a form of a judicial lien, permits creditors to place a legal claim on the debtor’s assets early in the judicial process, even before a judgment is entered. New Jersey permits a writ of attachment on real or personal property at the beginning of the case.

The writ of attachment provides a two-fold benefit:

  1. Protects the creditor’s rights and ability to collect on any future judgment; and,
  2. Provides leverage to negotiate a settlement with the debtor early in the process.

However, a skilled collection lawyer understands that there are limits to how and when a writ of attachment may be used.

Federal and State Requirements

Most state and federal jurisdictions permit creditors to obtain writs of attachment, although there are some differences between the two.

Federal Requirements

Typically, the U.S. Marshals Services is the agency used to seize and hold any property subject to the writ of attachment. In successfully obtaining a writ of attachment, courts generally require the claim to be:

  • Based on a contract and for money;
  • Of a fixed or readily ascertainable amount;
  • Not fully secured or unsecured; and
  • Of a commercial nature.

A court will require you to show:

  • Without the relief sought, you will likely suffer irreparable or great harm; and,
  • More likely than not you will be successful in obtaining a judgment.

New Jersey Requirements

Pursuant to the New Jersey Court Rules 4:60, et. seq., to successfully obtain a writ of attachment, you must show:

  • There is a probability that final judgment will be in your favor;
  • There are statutory grounds for issuance of the writ; and,
  • The debtor has real or personal property at a specific location within the State subject to attachment.

If successful, the court will issue an order directing the issuance of the writ, which shall contain the following:

  • Fixing the amount or value of the property to be attached;
  • Providing the manner to which notice of attachment shall be given to the debtor;
  • Such other terms and conditions the court deems appropriate.

Generally, the writ will be issued to the sheriff where the property to be attached is located. The sheriff will then impose a levy within thirty days of the date of the writ.

Items That Can Be Attached

If the creditor meets all of the requirements, the court may issue a writ of attachment for any non-exempt property.

For business debtors, non-exempt property that could be attached includes any property the business holds that is within jurisdiction.

For individual debtors, there are greater restrictions of what non-exempt property could be attached. For example, earnings are most commonly held as an exempt property. However, federal courts permit creditors to attach any property that the debtor has “possession, custody, and control” of.

Obtaining a Writ of Attachment

For a court to have authority to take action on your behalf, a civil lawsuit must first be initiated which files and serves a complaint for recovery of the debt owed to you or your business. Either simultaneously or after service of the complaint, you may initiate a proceeding to obtain a writ of attachment.

There are two ways you may request an order for an issuance of a writ of attachment:

  • Motion – Requires notice to the debtor, giving the debtor an opportunity to file and serve opposing affidavits and cross-motions. Within a short time period — in New Jersey, at least three days after the notice — there would be a hearing to determine whether the writ of attachment would be issued.
  • Ex parte – In extreme cases, the debtor is not notified of the request for the writ of attachment. In New Jersey, this may occur if the debtor is likely to flee, or if giving the debtor notice will defeat the execution of the writ.

Generally, you will be required to file and serve several documents such as:

  • Application form;
  • Notice that contains the hearing date, time and location;
  • Supporting affidavits (statements) and other evidence; and
  • Drafts of court orders and writs.

Once the order of issuance of writ of attachment is granted, you usually can obtain several writs to place liens in the different counties where the debtor may own property.

Courts may also require you to obtain a bond (or undertaking) as an extra insurance in case the attachment is later shown to be wrongful. The court determines the amount of the bond, which may be based on the probable damages due to a wrongful attachment.

Seek a Knowledgeable Debt Collection Lawyer in New Jersey

Obtaining payments for the debt owed to you can be demanding. At Snellings Law LLC, a tenacious collection lawyer will review your facts and craft your best strategies to maximize the repayment of the amount owed. Call us at (973) 265-6100 today.

Consumer Fraud Laws Affecting Auto Creditors

If you finance automobiles to consumers, it is important to be aware of the federal consumer fraud laws affecting auto creditors and regulations that apply when a creditor transacts a loan. The Federal Trade Commission and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) have become increasingly active in enforcing laws implicated in auto loan transactions.

Sometimes a consumer seeks direct lending from a lender in advance of the auto purchase (e.g. a consumer calls the bank to get pre-approved for a loan and then takes that loan approval to the dealership).  In other cases, the dealership encourages the consumer to use indirect financing through a third party that the dealership has a relationship with.  In this case, the consumer enters into a contract for purchase with the dealer. The dealer then sells the contract to its independent financing company affiliate, often a non-bank auto finance company.  Indirect financing receives the bulk of scrutiny from regulatory agencies because of dealership discretion and the potential for misleading consumers through the marketing and sale of products or services supplementary to the auto loan.

Broadening Reach of CFPB

Dodd-Frank currently does not give the CFPB supervisory authority over non-bank auto finance companies.  In September 2014, the CFPB proposed a new rule to broaden authority to the non-bank automobile finance market.  The CFPB would consequently be able to supervise any company that transacts ten thousand or more in loans or leases in a year.

See https://files.consumerfinance.gov/f/201506_cfpb_semi-annual-report-spring-2015.pdf.

Given the breadth of expanding jurisdiction, it is likely that authority will eventually expand to car dealerships that use third-party service providers to finance vehicles.

An example of the broadening reach of the CFPB occurred when DriveTime, a “buy here, pay here” dealer, was ordered to pay a civil money penalty of $8,000,000 to the CFPB for numerous violations of consumer financial laws.  Some of the prohibited activities included:

  • Failure to implement internal policies and procedures to maintain accurate consumer data.
  • Harassing consumer references.
  • Using third-party databases to find new numbers and then harassing those wrong numbers despite requests to stop.
  • Calling consumers at work after being told by consumers on numerous occasions not to call.
  • Reporting inaccurate information to credit reporting agencies regarding dates of repossession thereby violating the Fair Credit Reporting Act.
  • In another violation of the Fair Credit Reporting Act, mishandling consumer disputes pertaining to the inaccurate reporting of information to credit reporting agencies. DriveTime did not correct the inaccurate information in a timely fashion and sometimes not at all even after notifying consumers the information had been corrected.

See https://files.consumerfinance.gov/f/201411_cfpb_consent-order_drivetime.pdf

FTC and Deceptive Trade Practices

Even though the CFPB does not yet have jurisdiction over car dealerships, the FTC can still enforce deceptive trade practice laws and regulations.

Deceptive trade practices can be employed at any phase of the loan transaction.  For example, pre-loan activities such as advertisements can be misleading as to APR and payment terms.  The loan application process may even directly or indirectly discriminate against people of a particular age or race.  And products pushed onto consumers such as extended warranties, GAP insurance, and road service all have pitfalls for deceptive or harassing marketing activity. Another activity ripe for scrutiny by enforcement agencies is advertising. When evaluating the integrity of the advertisement, the terms must actually be available through the creditor and clearly state restrictions and qualifications (e.g. 60 months 1.9% for qualified buyers only or college student rebates).

Unfair, deceptive, abusive acts or practices (UDAAP) in connection with marketing or selling financial products or services fall under Subpart C of Dodd Frank.  Prohibitive practices generally arise from failing to accurately and completely communicate the costs or scope of the products.  For example, if GAP insurance is marketed and represented to the consumer as being a “pennies on the dollar” investment, but ends up costing an additional $50 per month, that is arguably deceptive.  For additional information about consumer fraud laws affecting auto creditors, the CFPB has released a bulletin describing certain acts or practices related to the collection of consumer debt that could potentially constitute UDAAPs prohibited by the Dodd-Frank Act.

See https://files.consumerfinance.gov/f/201307_cfpb_bulletin_unfair-deceptive-abusive-practices.pdf

Truth in Lending

Subpart C of Regulation Z of the Truth in Lending Act addresses transactions that would apply to auto loans.  Subpart C requires a creditor to provide the consumer with a written disclosure of material terms before the parties execute the credit agreement.  Material terms include the annual percentage rate (APR), any financing fees, the payment schedule (including balloon payments or early pay-off fees), the total amount financed, and late fees. Regulation M implements the Consumer Leasing Act and applies to auto loans among consumer leases generally. Material terms for leases would include the amount due at signing and the standards for wear and use on the vehicle before additional fees were assessed. See 12 CFR Part 213.

Fair Debt Collection Practices

On the back end of the transaction, if a borrower is delinquent, the creditor must be aware of the prohibitions for collection activity under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) so as to avoid enforcement actions by the CFPB.  See 15 U.S.C. 1692(d-f) for more on prohibited activities.

Avoiding Violations of Consumer Fraud Laws Affecting Auto Creditors

As an auto creditor, instituting policies and procedures for mitigating exposure to investigations from consumer financial protection authorities is critical.  These policies and procedures should focus on:

  • Training programs for employees on how to address consumers during initial and subsequent communications.
  • Controlled marketing practices to avoid misrepresentations around consumer rights and references to credit reports.
  • Compliance with other Federal Consumer Laws as a lot of the requirements dovetail.
  • Technology to improve record retention and bolster data security to prevent mishandling of consumer data.
  • Improving disclosures related to credit reporting thereby reducing consumer disputes.
  • Accounting practices to be able to withstand external audits around substantiating debts.

Another common compliance practice when presenting these products is to videotape the lending agent’s explanation of these financial products and services when the consumer is purchasing the vehicle.

Investing in compliance infrastructure can save on not only potential fines, but the cost associated with negative public perception from consumers.

For More Information About Consumer Fraud Laws Affecting Auto Creditors

Snellings Law LLC is fully equipped to handle virtually all commercial litigation matters including consumer fraud. To learn more about consumer fraud laws affecting auto creditors, call 973.947.7052 to schedule your initial consultation with one of our trial-tested litigators. Flexible hours are available.

New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act: An Overview for the Business Owner

New Jersey Consumer Fraud ActMuch like similar federal consumer protection laws, the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act (NJCFA) was enacted to promote good faith and fair dealings in the marketplace.  Given the act’s expansion over the last several decades, creditors who offer, sell, or provide consumer credit are also subject to the NJCFA.  Compliance with the NJCFA requires consulting an attorney with a deep understanding of how to avoid liability to consumers. The act declares unlawful the use of fraud or any unconscionable commercial practice in connection with the sale or advertisement of merchandise or real estate. Contact us today to learn more about the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act.

Potentially Covered Transactions

Commercial transactions that fall under the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act include:

  • Engaging home improvement contractors
  • A contract to purchase a home
  • Renting an apartment
  • Buying a car from a dealer
  • Car mechanic’s services
  • Hiring a moving service
  • Misrepresenting a condition of any commercial product

Conduct That Violates the Act

A claim can be wedged into almost any transaction under N.J.S.A. 56:8-2. Basically, consumer fraud can be committed by an (1) affirmative misrepresentation; (2) a knowing omission; or (3) a violation of one or more specific consumer protection statutes. In order to prevail on a claim under the NJCFA, a plaintiff must prove three elements: (1) unlawful conduct by the defendant; (2) an ascertainable loss by the plaintiff; and (3) a causal relationship between the unlawful conduct and the ascertainable loss.

The New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act is unique, broader sweeping, and more stringent on businesses than other consumer protections statues. Consequently, New Jersey’s business owners can be held liable for even the slightest “unfair” or “deceptive” activity (e.g. failure to articulate a payment term in the purchase agreement although it caused the consumer nominal injury).  Hypothetically, if a home improvement contractor built a home exactly to a customer’s specification, that contractor could face having to refund the customer three times what the contractor charged for the service.   And if the actions are widespread among the customer base, a business owner is more likely than not going to face a class action suit, which compounds the damages significantly forcing the business owner to pay out a large settlement.  

Damages

Under the NJCFA, a plaintiff who successfully proves both an unlawful practice and a resulting “ascertainable loss” is entitled to an award of treble (three times) damages and attorney’s fees and court costs.  Another distinguishing characteristic is that the NJCFA requires treble damages as opposed to making it discretionary for the court: “In any action under this section the court shall, in addition to any other appropriate legal or equitable relief, award threefold the damages sustained by any person in interest.” Thus, the plaintiff may not have acted in bad faith and yet the increased exposure in damages is substantial.

Who Can Sue

A plaintiff can be an individual consumer and unlike some other consumer protection statutes, a plaintiff can also be a business.  Subsequently, the fact that businesses are covered under the act can be detrimental for owners who violate the act because they can be held personally liable despite the limited liability shield offered by incorporation.  

The New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act also can extend to residents of other states where the transaction occurred. This is true so long as the defendant is headquartered in New Jersey. For example, Delaware and New York have expressly held that non-resident plaintiffs may not bring consumer protection claims under equivalent state consumer protection statutes for out of state transactions.  As stated previously, the claims often come in the form of class action suits. Therefore New Jersey business owners face claims on a national scale.  This incentivizes law firms to seek out clients all over the United States in an effort to bolster their suit. At the same time, this breadth of exposure can deter New Jersey businesses from expanding their business out of state.

What Internal Policies Should Focus On

It is imperative that business owners therefore implement a comprehensive set of internal policies and procedures to ensure its employees abide by the NJCFA.  These policies and procedures should focus on:

  • Consulting with an attorney on how its business operations could be subject to the NJCFA.
  • Training programs for employees on how to address consumers during initial and subsequent communications.  
  • Elimination of boilerplate contracts that often include unilaterally favorable terms to the business.
  • Controlled marketing practices to avoid misrepresentations around consumer rights and material terms of the purchase agreement.
  • Compliance with Federal Consumer Laws to limit exposure as there is overlap between prohibited activities under consumer protection laws.
  • Technology to improve record retention and bolster data security.
  • Forming an enterprise risk team.
  • Monitoring of employee communications with consumers.

For More Information about the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act, Contact Us Today

Consumer protection is important. But in the information age when due diligence is more easily accomplished by a consumer and consumers are empowered by access to online reviews, protecting small business owners from frivolous litigation is often overlooked. For more information about the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act, contact Snellings Law, LLC today.

Key Facts about Consumer Fraud

New Jersey collections lawyerAlthough every state in the country has enacted laws to protect consumers, New Jersey has some of the toughest. A skilled New Jersey consumer fraud attorney can explain your consumer rights and help you decide what to do in the event you have been defrauded after a purchase or other scheme.

The Evolution of New Jersey Consumer Protection Laws

When the state enacted its initial laws protecting consumers against fraud, it was meant as a tool for the attorney general. In other words, in the beginning, the state would pursue consumer protection and go after unscrupulous merchants. Now, the law has been revamped to allow private citizens to pursue claims for themselves.

Spotting Consumer Fraud

Consumer fraud is defined as deceptive practices that cause financial loss to the consumer in the guise of legitimate business practices. Common types of consumer fraud involve identity theft, mail and telemarketing scams and income tax fraud. Unfortunately, some of our most vulnerable citizens such as the elderly or mentally disabled make easy prey.

Combating Consumer Fraud

The best protection against consumer fraud is a good offense. This means knowing how to spot fraud when you see it. A good education about common types of fraud versus legitimate business practices is key. It is much easier to protect yourself by avoiding scams. However, this isn’t always possible and unscrupulous merchants and scammers are getting better and better at their craft. Therefore, it’s critical that you engage good legal help who is well-versed in the various laws pertaining to consumer fraud. Your attorney can explain whether your situation warrants legal action and how to go about pursuing it. A good consumer fraud lawyer can aggressively pursue compensation on your or your loved one’s behalf.

If you feel you’ve been defrauded after purchasing a product. It’s important that you understand how to pursue your rights. To make an appointment with a top notch New Jersey consumer fraud lawyer, contact the offices of Snelllings Law LLC at 973.265.6100. The longer you wait, the fewer remedies you may have.

If you or someone you know has been injured as a result of someone else’s negligence in San Antonio, contact San Antonio Personal Injury Law Firm.

What Does the Consumer Fraud Act Have to Do with Real Estate Litigation?

Real Estate Litigation LawyerLawyers can take action through real estate litigation to address fraud involved in selling or renting real estate property. Because real estate is typically your most valuable asset, you stand to lose a lot as a victim of fraud or when wrongly accused of fraud. Working with a skilled law firm can be essential to protecting your investment.

The New Jersey legislature passed the Consumer Fraud Act to protect consumers against misrepresentation, deceptive business practices and deliberate omissions of fact that mislead consumers in the advertisement or sale of real estate. The act applies to the sale and also renting of real estate property. When you are a consumer fraud victim, courts can make the defendant compensate you for the financial loss, order payment of treble the damages as a punitive award and also require payment of court costs and attorney fees.

Gennari v. Weichert C. Realtors is an example of a case in which the defendants misrepresented the housing development and also omitted material facts. Real estate agency Weichert represented builder Rumberg as having built hundreds of high-quality homes throughout New Jersey. The truth was he had always worked under the supervision of others, and his workmanship was defective. The homes in the lawsuit had inadequate heating systems, roof problems, pipes that lacked insulation, improper foundation waterproofing, uneven floors and inadequate air conditioning systems, and completion was delayed. The realtor led prospective buyers to believe that she knew the builder’s workmanship, and her advertising described Rumberg as “an exacting and demanding builder of real substance.” This promotion was misleading. The court found Weichert Co. Realtors and Rumberg and his wife guilty of consumer fraud and held that the Rumbergs were subject to punitive damages.

If you have concerns about real estate sales, purchases or rentals, a skilled New Jersey real estate litigation lawyer can advise you about your prospects for pursuing real estate litigation.

Who Is Liable Under the NJ Consumer Fraud Act and What Potential Damages Can Be Recovered?

New Jersey Consumer Fraud attorneyBeing accused of consumer fraud in New Jersey is no light matter, and having legal representation is crucial. Consumer fraud relates to the sale of goods, services or real estate. A sale can be broadly interpreted to include selling goods, services, rentals and distribution.

Under the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act, the term “person” is also broadly interpreted and can mean any of the following:

Legal representative
Partnership
Corporation
Company
Trust
Business entity
Business association
Agent
Employee
Salesperson
Partner
Officer
Director
Member
Stockholder
Associate
Trustee

Any of these can be subject to consumer fraud litigation. Corporate business owners and employees in most litigation issues have liability protection under the corporate veil. However, this is not so in consumer fraud litigation. For example, you can be personally sued for misrepresentation when selling a company product.

The law is also harsh in terms of damages. Whatever the court or jury decides is the amount of damages the plaintiff should receive is tripled under the law. Therefore, if damages were $10,000, the award would be $30,000, and the statute does not allow judges the discretion to change this ruling. In addition, when a plaintiff succeeds in winning the verdict, the defendant must pay the plaintiff’s attorney fees.

At the first hint of a consumer fraud law suit, it is vital to find a law firm with skilled lawyers. Consult with a New Jersey Consumer Fraud attorney who has experience effectively handling this type of commercial litigation.

 

 

 

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