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Being a Victim of Consumer Fraud: The New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act

Jeff Varcadipane

April 12, 2022

Have you been taken advantage of by a business? Maybe they denied you a refund for a product that doesn’t work or advertised they have a lot full of new cars to sell when really they all need to be special ordered and the lot is empty? New Jersey has some of the strongest consumer protection legislation in the country for cases exactly like these. The New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act, as the name implies, is a set of laws to protect against deceptive or otherwise fraudulent business practices. The act promotes ethical business practices, makes sure victims are entitled to compensation, and penalizes merchants.

How a New Jersey Merchant Becomes Liable for Consumer Fraud

The New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act spells out three main ways in which a merchant in the Garden State can be held liable for deceptive business practices:

  • The merchant conceals, omits, or suppresses any relevant detail about a product or service. For example, an ad shows a very competitively-priced refrigerator, but when you get to the appliance store, it turns out the refrigerator is so affordable because it’s an open box return. 
  • If they violate a specific statute that was written into law regarding certain unique situations. For instance, it is against the law to sell a used tire that is not clearly labeled as “used.” Yes, doing something like this violates the above tenet, but there is also a specific law against this in particular.
  • The merchant engages in any type of false advertising, misrepresentation, fraud, false pretense, or other deception.

The New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act in Specific Industries

It’s important to know your rights-–this is a key ingredient in a successful democracy. Our state’s consumer protection legislation is robust, to say the least. Here is a taste of some of the things covered industry-by-industry.

Home Improvement

  •  All agreements with contractors for home improvement services must be in writing, include start and end dates, outline the work to be done in detail with necessary supplies, and include the contractor’s license number.
  • If a contractor demands final payment before the job is 100% finished, fails to provide you with a copy of the contract you signed, fails to obtain the necessary building permits, or even makes negative comments about a competitor, he or she can be held liable under the statute.

Employment Agencies

  • The agency’s contract must be in writing, clearly state that it does not in any way guarantee job placement, and give the signer three days to cancel without penalty.
  • They must clearly post exactly how their fee structure works, explaining what fees will be deducted from the worker’s wages, and show how everything is calculated
  • Employment agencies can not charge temporary employees for permanent placement, and they can not charge job seekers more than 1% of the scheduled fee if they quit with just cause

Car Dealers

  • Car dealers may not have any hidden or undisclosed fees, charge excessive fees, or fail to disclose all financing terms.
  • They can not misrepresent a vehicle’s repair history or condition. Always ask, “Is there anything wrong with this vehicle? Is there anything I should know about it before I buy?” because that leaves the responsibility on their shoulders.

We Are New Jersey Consumer Fraud Attorneys

Varcadipane & Pinnisi has an impressive record defending consumers from fraud and deception. Whether the merchant isn’t honoring a warranty or sold you a lemon, contact us today for a free case review and consultation.

 

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