Rip-offs happen every day. Most people think they’re not worth worrying about. They figure hidden fees and misleading ads are just something you live with when the law is so difficult and costly to enforce.
But the law gives you more power than you think. Leveraging the tools the law provides, we can help you put a stop to misconduct in the marketplace and recover even small losses. And we can do this at no upfront cost to you.
Every state has enacted some form of consumer protection legislation. These laws give you powerful weapons against deception in the marketplace. Many of them let you recover a fixed amount — sometimes as much as $1,000 per violation — even for small out-of-pocket losses. Some also allow a prevailing consumer to recover his attorney’s fees.
Unscrupulous businesses count on the time and expense of litigation to deter you from pursuing your rights. By shifting those costs back to the wrongdoer, the law makes it cost-effective for you to fight even small scams. And when the law makes businesses bear the full cost of their misconduct, they have more incentive to deal honestly with you in the first place.
New York’s Consumer Protection Law
New York has a good example of this kind of legislation. One section of the law prohibits “[d]eceptive acts or practices” in the conduct of a business, while a second section specifically outlaws false advertising. For each violation, the injured consumer can recover the greater of his actual damages or $50 — $500 in the case of false advertising. The defendant is liable for his deception even if it was unintentional. But if the defendant acted knowingly or willfully, the court has the power to increase his liability, in some cases up to three times the consumer’s actual damages.
New York’s law reaches an almost unlimited variety of scams, rip-offs, and frauds. The following are just a few examples of the conduct it outlaws:
- Selling defective goods;
- Refusing to honor advertised sale prices;
- Refusing to honor a guarantee or warranty;
- Advertising food as “organic” (or “all natural” or “kosher”) when it is not;
- Selling ineffective supplements, drugs, or medical devices;
- Underfilling food or beverage containers;
- Charging undisclosed fees;
- Charging for unnecessary repairs;
- Charging for services that were never provided;
- Trying to collect a debt when no debt is owed;
- Misrepresenting a school’s graduation or placement rates; and
- Selling counterfeit goods (e.g., vintage wines).
If you think a business has cheated you, contact us for a free consultation. We may be able to help you stop a scam and recover what you lost. There’s no charge to you unless you recover something, and our fee never exceeds your recovery.
You should also check out our updated list of ongoing investigations. You may have a claim and not even know it.