Consumer Fraud Attorney
If you have made a recent purchase and feel like you did not get what you bargained for, you might have a potential legal action under New Jersey’s Consumer Fraud Statue. Since the law provides possible treble (triple) damages and attorney fees, typically if you have a legitimate claim and are represented by an experienced attorney, these matters can often be resolved for a fair settlement very quickly.
The most common cases in New Jersey involve the following (but could really include virtually any type of purchase):
- The purchase or lease of a new or used motor vehicle
- Home Improvement Contractors
- Moving Companies
- Deliveries regarding household appliances or furniture
- Funeral services
- Internet Dating Safety
- Memberships to clubs, gyms, and associations
- Purchases made through mail or catalog orders
- Predatory Towing
- Refund policies regarding purchases
- Repairs and services of many purchases including motor vehicles, home appliances, and recreational watercraft
What is Consumer Frauds
Consumer Fraud is when someone makes a purchase and through the transaction is deceived or makes the purchase under a misrepresentation by the seller. This is a Strict Liability Statute, so even if the seller did not intend to make a misrepresentation, there can still be a cause of action allowing you to bring legal suit for your damages.
In New Jersey the relevant statute 56:8-2 specifically sets forth that any purchase made within a consumer setting is subject to tight regulations under New Jersey Consumer Fraud Protection Act. This act, enacted in 1960 and amended in 1975, affords protection to consumers suffering any proven loss of any money or real or personal property because of an unlawful sale or misrepresentation. Even if the merchant or seller acts in good faith with no intent to deceive or misrepresent when making the transaction, the consumer still has protection under the act. It asserts liability to the merchant or seller if there is an affirmative misrepresentation regardless of the intent.
Consumer Protection Leasing Act
The New Jersey statute also extends protection in transactions involving leases, including but not limited to automobiles. Enacted in 1995, it extended consumer protection from fraud purchases to include leases.
Under this act, the consumer has a right to review a lease 24 hours before signing it. This ensures the buyer the time to thoroughly read the lease and seek attorney advice to make certain there is no misrepresentation or deception. The consumer also has protection, which requires the merchant or seller to make mandatory disclosure of trade in allowance and any relevant costs of an automobile in excess of its manufacturer’s retail value price. The protection leasing act affords protection to any person engaging in a lease agreement under the Consumer Fraud Act as well. This act provides time for the consumer not only to understand the lease they are about to sign, but also to afford protection regarding disclosure of certain information important to the lease itself.
Examples of Consumer Fraud
Under the statute, 56:8-2, any of the following constitutes protection against any act committed by a seller, merchant, or advertiser:
- Unconscionable commercial practices
- Deception or fraud
- False pretense
- False promise or misrepresentation
- Knowingly concealing, omitting, or suppressing any material facts that are important to the consumer’s decision to purchase
Remedies and Damages Available
The Act provides a consumer with protections including the following:
- Treble damages (Court has the ability to triple the compensation damages to the consumer)
- Attorney’s fees and costs
Since the seller faces these potential very steep penalties, once they receive a letter from an attorney often there is an effort to work out a quick settlement for a fair compensation so they do not face these possible additional penalties.
Most matters involving consumer fraud I accept on a contingency fee basis. That means that if I accept your case, then you do not need to pay any legal fees, but instead our office will take the statutory percentage allowed under the law. That means that if we do not collect anything, then you do not owe any legal fees.
I offer a free consultation either by phone or in my office and will review your matter to see if I feel you have a case worth pursuing. Please feel free to call me now at (973) 686-9787
I have been admitted to practice law since 1991 and offer experienced legal assistance to help in your matter.