The goal of consumer defense is to protect the interests of consumers and help them to navigate the complicated world of the marketplace. This can include protecting their rights, preventing fraud, ensuring the quality of products and services they purchase, or helping to ensure the safety of consumers’ information and personal data.
Historically, the primary concept underlying marketplace protection has been that of caveat emptor: the buyer is solely responsible for what he or she buys. This principle, which has been in effect for hundreds of years, was primarily designed to protect people from the snake oil salesmen who peddled bogus or unsafe goods that often led to health problems and deaths.
But as the United States economy grew more industrialized and commercial, the consumer’s role in the marketplace began to evolve. Today, consumers have the power to enforce consumer laws and to sue for damages in the event of a violation.
This is a growing area of law, and it is gaining increased attention from federal and state enforcement authorities. The FTC recently identified this as one of its top priorities for its strategic plan for 2018-2022. In addition, states are developing their own statutes that address the consumer protection issues listed above.
Some of the key components of consumer defense include: a) education and b) advocacy. Educating consumers about their legal rights is crucial, and it can also be a powerful tool for advocacy, as it can help to prevent scams from occurring in the first place.
It is the responsibility of all government agencies to provide consumers with accurate and up-to-date information about their rights and protections. This is especially true with regard to banking and credit issues. There are several federal and state agencies that offer helpful advice on these topics, as well as a variety of other consumer related tips.
A good source of information on a range of issues is the American Bar Association’s website. The Association also publishes a consumer legal manual that contains information on a wide range of topics.
Another excellent resource is Consumer Action, a national nonprofit organization that is dedicated to educating underrepresented consumers about their rights and how to effectively advocate on their behalf. The organization is well known for its multilingual consumer education materials, community outreach and issue-focused advocacy.
Their multilingual website, hotlines and social media channels are a great source of information for consumers. The organization also has a robust lobbying program that helps to promote the economic well-being of underserved populations.
Finally, the organization has a strong executive team that oversees their various programs. They are a strong advocate for low-income and minority consumers on a nationwide scale, with a particular focus on student debt and the financial security of immigrants.
As the economy becomes more complex, the need for effective consumer defense is only increasing. The field of consumer protection is currently experiencing an upsurge in litigation as a result of allegations of fraud, unfair and deceptive practices, privacy and data breaches, and violations of the False Claims Act. It is important for attorneys and academics to be aware of these emerging trends and to ensure that they are adequately equipped to defend consumers.