Every business that operates within the public realm and relies on consumers for its income and profits has a duty to those same consumers to always act fairly and transparently. At the least, they cannot intentionally make decisions, use regulations or otherwise take actions that are damaging to a consumer’s health and wellbeing. When profits are prioritized over people, the result could be a deceptive, wrongful or dangerous company action that constitutes consumer fraud.
What are the Various Forms of Consumer Fraud?
There are near-countless ways a company could conduct consumer fraud. If they take an action meant to deceive or harm a consumer, it may fall into this category. However, there are a few umbrella categories of consumer fraud that encompass most forms in one way or another.
The four main forms of consumer fraud include:
- Unfair and deceptive practices: The largest of all the umbrella categories of consumer fraud are unfair and deceptive practices and actions. Companies need to be upfront and clear about how they conduct their business, how they price and sell products and services, how they donate to charity, and so forth. Any attempt to keep useful information from a consumer or an interested third party can be seen as deception and consumer fraud.
- Predatory lending: Financial institutions that hand out loans of money must be reasonable with who is approved and who is denied. In particular, approvals for loans must follow a clear explanation of all the terms of the loan, from interest rates to minimum payments and fees. Predatory lending occurs when loan information is withheld, fees are hidden or undisclosed, aggressive collection tactics are used, and so on.
- Junk fees: When a fee for a service is not necessarily hidden but is otherwise misrepresented, or simply should not exist in the first place, it is a consumer fraud form known as junk fees. A company might try to collect fees for a service the consumer never wanted, illegally implement “private taxes” that they keep without any carryover to the government, or stack late fees.
- Product defects: Although it may sound wrongly categorized, a defective product does constitute consumer fraud. Products sold on the market to a consumer are assumed to be safe for regular use. A defect flies opposite of that assumption and, therefore, can constitute fraud, especially when the manufacturer had reason to believe their product was unsafe or defective.
Have You Been a Victim of Consumer Fraud?
Responding to potential consumer fraud is a difficult situation for the average consumer who likely does not understand their rights in detail. When do you have the right to seek compensation for damages related to consumer fraud? Must you take on a large company or corporation alone when you do file a claim??
Rather than trying to navigate these questions on your own, you can call (314) 241-2929 to team up with The Simon Law Firm. For more than 17 years, our team of St. Louis consumer fraud attorneys have been standing up for the rights of consumers just like you. We can determine if you have a valid consumer fraud claim and whether it should be filed individually or as part of a class action if you do. Get started today with a free initial consultation.