Consumer Fraud

When individuals in Southern California lose their hard-earned dollars to deceptive business practices and auto fraud, the consumer fraud practice at the Law Offices of Steven L. Martin helps them recover what they have lost and force businesses to change their fraudulent practices.

There are many traps for the unwary and a thousand ways for the unsuspecting consumer to be separated from his or her pocketbook by unscrupulous merchants. Fortunately, there are laws protecting the consumer from fraud and deceptive business practices.

Deceptive Business Practices
The main protection for consumers in California is the Consumers Legal Remedies Act (CLRA), which protects consumers from unfair and deceptive business practices in the sale of goods or services. CLRA can apply to everything from retail sales of home furnishings, to wonder drugs that actually do nothing, to home improvement contractors who take cash up-front for materials and are never heard from again.

CLRA lists 23 different examples of unfair or deceptive acts, including:

Representing used goods as new
Advertising goods without the intent to sell them or supply the demand (bait and switch)
Misrepresenting the authority of a salesperson to negotiate the final terms of a deal
Representing that a part, replacement, or repair is needed when it is not
CLRA does not apply to the construction or sale of a residence, although it may apply to contractors who perform specific work on an already-established home. Painters, plumbers, roofers, and other contractors who engage in unfair and deceptive business practices may therefore be liable under the act for money damages and other remedies provided for by the CLRA. CLRA specifically prohibits certain home solicitations of senior citizens, where a loan is made encumbering the house for the purpose of paying for home improvements.

Used Cars
While there are doubtless many honest and reputable auto dealers, used car sellers are commonly perceived as engaging in unlawful deceptive practices. Some of the more common fraudulent practices include:

Selling a vehicle without disclosing that it has been damaged or rebuilt
Selling a car with salvage title without disclosing that fact
Doctoring or failing to disclose the car’s true record of accidents, maintenance history, mileage, or condition
Including unfair terms or unreasonable interest rates in an auto loan or lease
Lemon Law
The Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act provides protection for consumers who buy or lease new cars. Under this law, if the vehicle you purchase is defective and the automaker or dealer is unable to service or repair it within a reasonable number of attempts, the manufacturer must either replace the vehicle or return the purchase price, at the buyer’s option. This law applies for the entire duration of the vehicle’s warranty.

Since the obligation under the Act is to service or repair the vehicle in accordance with the warranty, the state’s lemon law can also apply to used cars which are sold with express written warranties.

Experience and Expertise in Your Corner
If you have been victimized by consumer fraud, it is only natural to be angry over what you have lost and how it was taken from you. We can help you right the wrong which was done to you and put an end to false and deceptive practices before they harm others. Contact the Law Offices of Steven L. Martin for a free consultation.