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How are consumer rights protected by the government?

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Quick Answer

Consumer rights and protection laws exist to protect individuals from goods and services providers that abuse customer's lack of knowledge or negotiating power, explains HG.org. For example, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act awards victims $1,000 and legal fees when a bill collector calls a debtor at unreasonable hours, contacts him at his workplace or attempts to communicate through friends or family. Government agencies and attorneys general help to enforce these laws.

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The Federal Trade Commission also enforces a general prohibition on unfair and deceptive business practices through its Consumer Protection, Competition and Economics Bureaus, according to its website. The commission administers a number of federal laws, including the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure Act, which limits fees and helps restrict interest-rate changes on credit cards, says Lawyers.com. Other federal legislation that protects consumers includes the Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act of 1998, which created educational services to help consumers prevent identity theft and to help them file complaints, and the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, which requires that manufacturers and resellers detail warranty coverage on their products. Consumer financial protection laws include the Truth in Lending Act, which limits credit card issuers' ability to bill consumers for unauthorized charges, and the Fair Credit Reporting Act, which allows individuals to amend errors that they find in their credit reports.

Many state laws add further protection, notes Lawyers.com. This includes the right to sue for fraud if a seller or service provider makes a deliberately false representation that results in damages to the consumer.

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