Consumer defense is the process of protecting and promoting consumers’ rights. This includes educating clients about their rights, monitoring treatment facilities, assisting families in finding and accessing services and working with rights organizations.
Consumers’ rights include the right to safety, the right to information and the right to redress. They also have the right to choose and be heard.
Protecting and promoting consumer rights is a complex task that requires both law and regulation. The federal government sets and enforces consumer protection laws, and states have their own consumer protection statutes. There are also a variety of private and nonprofit consumer advocacy groups.
Some forms of consumer protection are rooted in the legal system, while others are market processes that self-correct when companies are not acting in a manner that is consistent with consumer needs. These markets provide companies with feedback about their products, which in turn allows them to adjust their marketing strategies.
One form of consumer protection is based on the idea that businesses should not be able to sue consumers for failing to satisfy their obligations under contracts, even in cases where the company has been negligent. This type of contract is called a “one- way contract.”
Can this form of consumer protection better protect consumers than the current enforcement- based regime?
A one- way contract is an agreement between two parties in which the consumer agrees to pay for goods or services, but only if the business can prove that it delivered what it promised. In return, the consumer gets a promise that he or she will be satisfied with the goods or services and that there is no legal liability on the part of the business for non- conformity.
The contract can be enforceable by the consumer against the business, but not against other third parties who may have acted in violation of the terms of the contract, such as collection agencies. In addition, the consumer can only use legal claims that are available, such as tort or administrative law.
Another form of consumer protection is a government regulation that prohibits unfair business-to-consumer commercial practices or regulates the safety of certain products and services. Examples of these regulations include the Food and Drug Administration, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Securities and Exchange Commission.
There are also consumer defense organizations that work with private attorneys, policymakers and courts to stop exploitative practices, help financially stressed families build and retain wealth, and advance economic fairness. These organizations may have a wide range of expertise, including policy analysis and advocacy; publications; litigation; expert witness services; and training for advocates.
Some of these organizations are government-funded, while others are independent. They work in state and federal courts, primarily in the areas of consumer fraud, scams, debt collection, mortgage foreclosure, energy, credit reporting, and health care.
Regardless of how they are funded, many consumer organizations are committed to providing consumers with the support they need to get the information they need to make better marketplace decisions. The National Consumer Law Center(r) (NCLC(r)), for example, has worked since 1969 to use its expertise in consumer law and energy policy to work for economic justice and financial security for low-income and other disadvantaged people throughout the country. NCLC works with nonprofit and legal services organizations, private attorneys, policymakers, and federal and state government and courts across the nation to stop exploitative practices, help financially stressed family members build and retain wealth, and advance economic fairness.