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Consumer Laws and Rights
 Jun 08, 2004

As a consumer you are entitled to certain rights under a number of consumer laws are in place to protect you. Knowing these consumer laws and rights can spare a lot of hassles. This article will review several consumer laws that protect your rights.

When it comes to your consumer rights, it is important to understand the protections you are entitled to by law. From the way companies can report your credit information to the rights you have when debt collectors call you, it is a good idea to have an idea of your rights. For the most part, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is in charge of these laws, and you can find out more about your rights and protections as a consumer by visiting

Consumer laws that protect your rights

No matter what you are doing as it relates to credit and debt, there are some laws that are designed to protect you from liability with regard to mistakes made in reporting and electronic transactions, as well as laws that protect you from harassment from creditors. Here are some of the laws that offer you protection:

  • Fair Credit Reporting Act (FRCA): The Fair Credit Reporting Act protects you from mistakes made on your credit report. It also requires that consumer reporting agencies -- the three major credit bureaus -- provide information that is accurate and timely. This means that items that are more than a few years old can not be included in your credit report to affect your score (the exceptions are bankruptcy, foreclosure, liens and other judgments, which can remain on your credit report for seven to ten years). The FRCA also provides provisions for you to have mistakes fixed on your credit report. If there are mistakes, the credit bureaus have to correct them within thirty days.
  • Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA): The Equal Credit Opportunity Act deals with cases of discrimination when you apply for credit. The act protects you from being discriminated against because of your race, ethnicity, national origin, marital status, age, gender or sexual orientation. Additionally, ECOA states that you if you want reliable public assistance counted toward your income, it has to be. Just because you are on public assistance (as long as it is regular), is no reason to deny you credit.
  • Fair Credit Billing Act (FCBA) and Electronic Fund Transfer Act (EFTA): These two laws are related. Indeed, they deal with many of the same issues. Basically, these two laws protect you from identity fraud. They state that you cannot be held liable for credit card and other types of transactions that were made without your authorization. Additionally, you are cannot be held liable for the fees that result from mistakes made during electronic transactions and on statements.
  • Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA): This is a very interesting act that lays out your protections against creditors. This is very important if you are overwhelmed with debt. In some cases, pushy creditors can cause undue stress in your life. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act shields you from practices that are considered unethical when debt collectors try to get payment. Some of the things that are prohibited under the FDCPA include: calling before eight in the morning or after nine at night, lying to you about the seriousness of the situation (i.e. implying that you can be arrested), harassing you, abusing or belittling you, and failing to clearly disclose who is calling and why. Another feature of this consumer protection law is that creditors have to stop contacting you if you notify them in writing to do so. Additionally, they cannot contact you at work if your employer does not approve of personal business or phone calls.

If any of your rights, under these laws, have been violated, make sure you contact the authorities. Make a note of the date and time of the violation, as well as who you were talking to. If you have any documentation, make sure that you save that to use as evidence. You should do your best to rectify the situation and to keep it from happening to others.

You have a number of rights related to credit, debt and electronic transactions. You are also protected from liability from charges you have not made, as well as the results of other people's mistakes. This can bring great peace of mind to many people. Make sure that you understand your rights, and be sure to report it to authorities if your rights are violated in any way.

Related Article: Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) >>

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