Consumer Protection Attorney Serving California and Nationwide
The Kalfayan Law Firm is a leading law firm when it comes to taking on consumer class action lawsuits to put an end to deceptive and fraudulent business tactics, unlawful and intimidating debt collection practices, dangerous product safety violations, and other corporate actions that harm individual consumers and their families. Numerous state and federal laws have been enacted to protect consumers, and many of these laws allow for individual lawsuits or collective actions to enforce consumer rights and hold companies accountable for the harm they have inflicted. Whether you have an individual complaint or have suffered damages in common with dozens, hundreds, or thousands of others, the Kalfayan Law Firm can help you get justice and compensation for your harm. For help in California or nationwide, call our office in Del Mar just north of San Diego for a free consultation at 619-232-0331.
Consumer Fraud/Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices
Different states have different laws protecting consumers from deceptive and unfair trade practices. In California, for example, the foremost law is the Consumers Legal Remedies Act (CLRA), found in sections 1750 to 1784 of the California Civil Code.
Section 1770 of the CLRA lists 27 different deceptive practices, including commonly known deceptive practices such as false advertising, “bait-and-switch” advertisements, mislabeled products, slack-filled containers, and illegal charges for services never rendered. Below is just a sampling of the deceptive practices prohibited by the CLRA:
- Passing off goods or services as those of another. Misrepresenting their source, sponsorship or affiliation. Using deceptive representations or designations of the geographic origin of goods or services.
- Representing used goods as new.
- Misrepresenting goods or services to be of a particular standard, quality, or grade or a particular style or model
- Disparaging the goods or services of another business through false or misleading representations of fact.
- Advertising goods or services with no intent to sell them as advertised. Advertising goods or services without intending to supply enough to meet the reasonably expectable demand.
- Advertising unassembled furniture as assembled. Failing to include the price for assembly.
- Misrepresenting that repair service, a replacement part or a replacement product is needed.
- Misrepresenting a salesperson’s authority to close a sale.
- Inserting an unconscionable provision into a contract.
Section 1780 of the CLRA creates a cause of action: any consumer who suffers any damage from one of the listed deceptive practices can sue and recover the actual damages they suffered, plus punitive damages and other relief. Section 1781 specifically authorizes class actions and includes a statutory minimum of $1,000 in damages, regardless of what the actual damages are. This is an important provision that makes class action lawsuits viable even where the actual damages to one individual would be minimal.
Class actions are authorized for consumer fraud and deceptive practices under the CLRA so long as the following conditions are met:
- It would be impracticable for every affected consumer to bring their own individual cases to court
- The plaintiffs have common questions of law and fact that are substantially similar and predominate over individual issues
- The claims and defenses of the class representatives are typical of those of the class
- The class representatives (the named plaintiffs) will fairly and adequately protect the interests of the class
Unfair Debt Collection Practices
The federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) limits what bill collectors can do when they are trying to collect a debt. The law is designed to stop bill collectors from engaging in abusive, harassing, threatening and intimidating conduct. Consumers can bring an action against a bill collector for violating the law. In addition to recovering their actual damages, the court can also award up to $1,000 in additional damages depending on the frequency and persistence of the violation, the nature of the violation, the defendant’s resources, the number of persons affected, and the extent to which the defendant’s violations were intentional. In a class action, the court can award up to $1,000 to each named plaintiff plus up to $500,000 or one percent of the debt collector’s net worth for all other class members.
The FDCPA outlaws a long list of conduct that could be considered fraudulent or abusive. Some of the activities prohibited under the FDCPA include:
- Calling the debtor before eight o’clock in the morning or after nine o’clock at night
- Repeatedly calling the debtor in order to harass, scare or annoy them
- Calling the debtor at work if the debtor has told the bill collector they are not allowed to receive personal calls at work
- Going to the debtor’s neighbors, family members, friends, or employer and telling them about the debt
- Using profanity, threats or abusive language when talking to the debtor
- Threatening to sue when they have no intention of doing so
- Misrepresenting themselves as an agent of law enforcement
- Providing any false or misleading information
- Entering the property of the debtor without their permission
- Collecting any amount other than the specific debt
- Depositing a post-dated check before the date marked on the check
California has a similar law, the Rosenthal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, found in sections 1788 to 1788.33 of the California Civil Code. However, the state law only authorizes individual actions and does not provide for class actions. The federal and state laws are slightly different, and it might be beneficial to pursue an individual case under the California statute. Class actions can only be brought under the federal FDCPA, however. Talk to the Kalfayan Law Firm about the best course of action to pursue in your particular case.
Hundreds of laws have been passed to protect the right to privacy in one way or another. As personal information has become easier to collect, share and sell than ever before, many modern laws have been enacted to give consumers control over their personally identifiable information and legal tools to seek justice when their privacy rights have been violated, including class actions in appropriate cases. Some of these laws include:
The Privacy Act of 1974 deals with personal information held by the government, making sure such information is protected from unauthorized disclosure and giving people the right to review their files, correct inaccuracies, and be informed of disclosures.
The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) protects personal and financial information that is collected, stored and used by credit bureaus and credit reporting agencies. You have the right to know your credit score and what is in your credit file, including the ability to correct or dispute any inaccurate information.
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) includes a robust privacy rule protecting when and how medical information can be collected, stored and released by healthcare providers.
The Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLA) deals with data collected and stored by financial institutions.
The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) severely restricts the ability of online companies to collect, share or sell information about children under the age of 13 without first obtaining verifiable parental consent.
At the state level, as recently as 2018, the California legislature passed the California Consumer Privacy Act, establishing the right to know what personal information a business collects, how they use it and how they share it. This law also provides a right to delete personal information and a right to opt out of the sale of one’s personal information. This law was further expanded in 2020 through a ballot initiative (Prop 24) that created the California Privacy Rights Act and a new government agency, the California Privacy Protection Agency. Enforcement of these laws is mostly handled by the state’s Attorney General, although the law does provide a limited right to sue for a data breach and recover actual damages or statutory damages up to $750.
Contact a Consumer Protection Lawyer at the Kalfayan Law Firm Today
For help with a violation of consumer laws in California or nationwide, including fraud, unfair debt collection, privacy violations and more, contact the Kalfayan Law Firm outside of San Diego in Del Mar for a free consultation. We represent local individual plaintiffs and pursue class action litigation throughout the country with commitment and dedication to seeing the case through to the end.