Consumer Law

consumerprotectionMany consumer claims, even if only for relatively small transactions, are still worth pursuing and can be brought at little or no cost to the consumer.  Consumers are typically provided protection under state and federal law when purchasing goods or services for personal, family, or household use.

Most consumer laws allow for the recovery of actual damages (your actual loss) or statutory damages (a predetermined damage amount – typically from $200 to $1,000 per violation).  In addition, most consumer laws shift the cost of attorney’s fees to the opposing party upon the prosecution of a successful claim.

Below are lists of selected Ohio and federal laws that apply to consumer transactions, along with brief descriptions of the protections afforded to consumers by each.  If you have a question regarding your individual rights for a particular consumer transaction, please contact us.

Ohio Laws Applicable to Consumer Transactions:

  • Consumer Sales Practices Act
  • Credit Card Recording Act
  • Credit Services Organization Act
  • Debt Adjusters Act
  • Defective Assistive Devices Act
  • Gift Card Act
  • Homebuyer’s Protection Act (Ohio’s Predatory Lending Law)
  • Home Solicitation Sales Act
  • Lemon Law (Nonconforming New Motor Vehicle Law)
  • Short-Term Lender Law (Payday Lending Law)

Federal Laws Applicable to Consumer Transactions:

  • Consumer Leasing Act
  • Credit Repair Organizations Act
  • Electronic Funds Transfer Act
  • Equal Credit Opportunity Act
  • Fair Credit Reporting Act
  • Fair Debt Collection Practices Act
  • Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act
  • Real Estate Settlement and Procedures Act
  • Truth in Lending Act

Ohio Consumer Laws

Ohio Consumer Sales Practices Act.  The Ohio Consumer Sales Practices Act (the “CSPA”) protects consumers from unfair, deceptive or unconscionable acts or practices in connection with a consumer transaction.  Among other things, the CSPA prohibits sellers from misrepresenting the nature of their business, products or services, the price of their goods, or the terms of a transaction.  The CSPA also prohibits sellers from taking advantage of a consumer’s illiteracy, mental or physical disability, or inability to understand the terms of a sale, and requires sellers to honor guarantees, warranties, and rain checks.

Ohio Credit Card Recording ActThe Ohio Credit Card Recording Act prohibits sellers from printing credit card expiration dates or more than five digits of consumers’ credit card number on receipts.  A violation of the Ohio Credit Card Recording Act is considered a violation of the CSPA.  

Ohio Credit Services Organization ActThe Ohio Credit Services Organization Act mandates that organizations that offer credit repair, debt counseling, or related services provide consumers with a written statement of rights and a clear and accurate description of the services to be provided and the costs for such services.  The Act also provides consumers with a three-day right to cancel contracts with credit service organizations, and prohibits credit service organizations from engaging in certain unfair or deceptive acts or practices.  

Ohio Debt Adjusters ActThe Ohio Debt Adjusters Act establishes rules and regulations for nonprofit organizations and other businesses that offer credit repair services, debt counseling, budget management, and related services to consumers facing financial difficulties.  The Act requires that payments made by consumers to such organizations be disbursed to the appropriate creditors within 30 days of receipt and limits the amount of fees such entities can charge for a consultation or for their services.  Specifically, the Act prohibits debt adjusters from accepting more than $75 for an initial consultation, accepting more than $100 annually for consultation fees or contributions, and from charging more than 8.5% of the amount paid by the consumer each month or $30, whichever is greater.

Ohio Defective Assistive Devices ActThe Ohio Defective Assistive Devices Act requires sellers to provide at least a one-year warranty covering the full cost of repair or replacement for products designed for disabled consumers.  This Act applies to hearing aids, wheelchairs, motorized scooters, talking software, and similar products.

Ohio Gift Card Act.  The Ohio Gift Card Act makes it illegal for most gift cards to expire in less than two years from the issue date and prevents the issuer from imposing service charges or fees during the initial two-year period.  The Act also states that gift cards with no expiration dates are valid until redeemed or replaced.

Ohio Homebuyer’s Protection Act (Ohio’s Predatory Lending Law).  The Ohio Homebuyer’s Protection Act protects consumers from abusive lending practices committed by non-bank lenders, such as loan officers and mortgage brokers.

Ohio Home Solicitation Sales ActOhio’s Home Solicitation Sales Act provides consumers three days to cancel any transaction of $25 or more that occurs at a location outside the seller’s regular place of business, such as the consumer’s home, a fair booth, or a hotel meeting room.  It also requires sellers to provide consumers written notice of their right to cancel such agreements, prohibits sellers from beginning any service or selling any loan agreement during the three-day “cooling off” period, and, if a consumer does properly cancel the agreement within the three-day period, requires sellers to provide the consumer a refund within 10 days of cancellation.

Ohio Lemon Law (Nonconforming New Motor Vehicle Law).  Ohio’s Lemon Law requires auto manufacturers to repair or replace “lemon” vehicles within a reasonable period of time.  The Law defines a “lemon” as a new motor vehicle that has a problem or problems, covered by the warranty, that substantially impair the use, value or safety of the vehicle.  The Law, however, only covers problems that occur within the first year of purchase or the first 18,000 miles, whichever occurs first.

Ohio Short-Term Lender Law (Payday Lending Law).  Ohio’s Short-Term Lender Law strictly limits the total amount of interest that “payday lenders” may charge consumers in connection with a short-term loan.  Many short-term lenders disguise the total amount of interest related to a loan, and as such, a detailed review of all aspects of a consumer’s loan is usually required.   

Federal Consumer Laws

Federal Consumer Leasing ActThe Federal Consumer Leasing Act requires lease providers to make detailed disclosures in relation to a leasing transaction.  The disclosures must be clear and conspicuous and are meant to provide consumers with sufficient information to easily compare various lease terms or to compare lease terms with credit terms.

Federal Credit Repair Organizations Act.  The Federal Credit Repair Organizations Act mandates that credit repair organizations provide consumers detailed disclosures regarding their services.  The Act also prohibits unfair or deceptive advertising and business practices by credit repair organizations.

Federal Electronic Funds Transfer Act.  The Electronic Funds Transfer Act sets forth the rights, liabilities and responsibilities of consumers and financial institutions with regard to electronic funds transfers (“EFTs”).  The Act applies to any transaction initiated through an electronic terminal, telephone, or computer that prompts a financial institution to either deposit or withdraw from a consumer’s account.  The Act also imposes rules for the solicitation and issuance of EFT cards, limits a consumer’s liability for a lost or stolen card, establishes resolution procedures for errors on EFT accounts, requires financial institutions to clearly disclose certain terms and conditions for EFT services, and requires documentation of the transfers.

Federal Equal Credit Opportunity ActThe Equal Credit Opportunity Act prohibits lenders (including credit card companies) from discriminating on the basis of sex, marital status, age, race, color, religion, or national origin.  The Act also prevents lenders from discriminating against consumers who receive public assistance or who have, in good faith, previously exercised their rights under consumer protection laws.  The Act requires lenders to notify applicants of a decision to deny credit, to explain why credit was denied, and to retain records relating to the application for credit if an adverse credit decision is made.  

Federal Fair Credit Reporting ActThe Fair Credit Reporting Act only allows credit reporting agencies to provide a consumer’s credit report to third-parties for certain, specified reasons.  The Act also requires that credit reporting agencies follow reasonable procedures to assure the accuracy of a consumer’s credit report.  In addition, the Act requires companies who provide information to credit reporting agencies to investigate any disputes relating to a particular report.

Federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.  The “FDCPA” prohibits collection agencies from using deceptive or abusive tactics in the collection of consumer debts.  For example, collection agencies may not contact consumers at odd hours, subject consumers to repeated telephone calls, threaten legal action that is not actually contemplated, or reveal to other persons the existence of a consumer’s debts.  Collection agencies are also prohibited from using false representation or deceptive means to collect or attempt to collect any debt or to obtain information concerning a consumer.  This Act does not apply to financial institutions (banks) that are seeking to collect a debt that they originated.  

Federal Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act.  The Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act provides consumers with various rights and remedies with regard to warranties for consumer products.  The Act requires detailed disclosures of the warranty terms, imposes federal minimum standards for warranties, and limits restrictions on warranties.

Federal Real Estate Settlement and Procedures ActThe Federal Real Estate Settlement and Procedures Act applies to most real estate loans secured by residential real estate.  The Act requires disclosure of certain information relating to the settlement, servicing, and escrow activities associated with the loan, prohibits certain abusive practices, kickbacks, or unearned fees, governs the use of funds in an escrow account, and requires certain disclosures related to the transfer, sale, or assignment of such loans.

Federal Truth in Lending Act.  The Federal Truth in Lending Act sets forth uniform methods for computing the cost of credit, requires lenders to provide certain disclosures with regard to credit terms, and establishes the procedures for resolving billing errors on certain credit accounts.