Consumer protection is a group of laws and organizations designed to ensure the rights of consumers, as well as fair trade, competition and accurate information in the marketplace. The laws are designed to prevent businesses that engage in fraud or specified unfair practices from gaining an advantage over competitors. They may also provide additional protection for those most vulnerable in society. Consumer protection laws are a form of government regulation, which aim to protect the rights of consumers. For example, a government may require businesses to disclose detailed information about products—particularly in areas where safety or public health is an issue, such as food. Consumer protection is linked to the idea of consumer rights, and to the formation of consumer organizations, which help consumers make better choices in the marketplace and get help with consumer complaints.
Other organizations that promote consumer protection include government organizations and self-regulating business organizations such as consumer protection agencies and organizations, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), ombudsmen, Better Business Bureau (BBB), etc.
A consumer is defined as someone who acquires goods or services for direct use or ownership rather than for resale or use in production and manufacturing.
Consumer interests can also be protected by promoting competition in the markets which directly and indirectly serve consumers, consistent with economic efficiency, but this topic is treated in competition law.
Consumer protection can also be asserted via non-government organizations and individuals as consumer activism.
Consumer protection law or consumer law is considered an area of law that regulates private law relationships between individual consumers and the businesses that sell those goods and services. Consumer protection covers a wide range of topics, including but not necessarily limited to product liability, privacy righters, unfair business practices, fraud, misrepresentation, and other consumer/business interactions.
It's a way of preventing fraud and scams from service and sales contracts, bill collector regulation, pricing, utility turnoffs, consolidation, personal loans that may lead to bankruptcy.
In the United States a variety of laws at both the federal and state levels regulate consumer affairs. Among them are the federal Fair Dept Collection Practices Act, the Fair Credit Reporting Act, Truth in Lending Act, Fair Credit Billing Act, and the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act. Federal consumer protection laws are mainly enforced by the Federal Trade Commission, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and the U.S. Department of Justice.
At the state level, many states have adopted the Uniform Deceptive Trade Practices Act including, but not limited to, Delaware, Illinois, Maine and Nebraska. The deceptive trade practices prohibited by the Uniform Act can be roughly subdivided into conduct involving either:
a) unfair or fraudulent business practice and
b) untrue or misleading advertising. The Uniform Act contains a private remedy with attorneys fees for prevailing parties where the losing party "willfully engaged in the trade practice knowing it to be deceptive". Uniform Act §3(b).
Also, the majority of states have a Department of Consumer Affairs devoted to regulating certain industries and protecting consumers who use goods and services from those industries. For example, in California, the California Department of Consumer Affairs regulates about 2.3 million professionals in over 230 different professions, through its forty regulatory entities.