Bringing a Consumer Fraud Claim in New Jersey
Most businesses and merchants do their best to provide quality products and services. Unfortunately, there are also those who engage in deceptive or fraudulent practices in order to increase their sales. When a business engages in such practices, then they may be liable for consumer fraud. Establishing that such fraud has occurred involves complicated issues of fact and law. This article will shed light on some of these complications by explaining the various aspects of bringing a consumer fraud claim in New Jersey.
Understanding New Jersey’s Consumer Fraud Act (CFA) and Bringing a Claim
New Jersey has passed some of the toughest consumer protection laws in the country. One aspect of this legal framework is the Consumer Fraud Act (CFA). This act provides protections, in part through a private cause of action, against businesses that engage in fraudulent or deceptive business practices. Common examples of such business practices can include knowingly selling defective items, engaging in “bait and switch” schemes, knowingly misrepresenting a product either explicitly or through omission, price concealment, and more. While many such practices often seem subtle, the fact of the matter is that you may have a claim against those who engage in these types of conduct.
You may recover damages for treble damages in consumer fraud cases. These will include three times your actual damages plus your legal fees. So, for example, if you establish that fraud occurred and that you lost $5,000, you would be entitled to $15,000 plus your legal expenses.
If you believe you have been defrauded by a business or service provider then how to proceed will depend on the specifics of your circumstances. If the fraud was a one-time act, then your attorney can attempt to reach a private resolution with the company or service provider. If a resolution cannot be reached, then an action may be brought in Superior Court. If the conduct was part of a wider pattern of deception, which harmed numerous victims, then your attorney may begin the process of initiating a class action lawsuit. Whatever your situation, it is advisable that you consult with an attorney before dealing with the business or service provider yourself. While the provider may attempt to offer you a refund, they are unlikely to offer you the amount of damages you would be entitled to under the CFA.
Common Types of Fraud Which Violates the CFA
While consumer fraud can exist in a variety of contexts, there are certain industries in which claims tend to be more common. Examples of consumer fraud sometimes committed within certain industries include the following.
The Home Improvement Industry and Other Contractors
Contractors who provide home improvement services, as well as those who provide repairs, are known to sometimes make false claims about the value they are providing. These false claims can relate to the quality of the materials used, the amount of time which the improvements can be expected to last, how the improvements will increase the value of a home and more. Sometimes the fraud can be more explicit. An example of this could include a Contractor who promises to use material “x” but instead uses material “y” without informing their customer or adjusting the price. When you are dealing with any contractor, it is important that you obtain a written estimate of work to be performed, a written contract spelling out the completion date and warranty information, as well as the contractor’s license information.
Auto Dealers and Auto Repair Shops
There are many stereotypes about car dealers and auto mechanics which sometimes hold true. A car dealer may be liable for consumer fraud if they misrepresent the vehicle’s history, the state of repairs that have been performed in the case of a used vehicle, what will be covered under a warranty, financing terms, etc. Likewise, an auto repair shop can be liable for claiming to perform work while not doing so, misrepresenting the need for repairs, or making false claims about the benefits that a given repair will provide. Before purchasing a car or agreeing to a repair, it is helpful to get all relevant information in writing.
Real Estate Professionals and Lenders
It is too common an occurrence for realtors to misrepresent how long it may take for a property to close, how much the home can be expected to appreciate, and more. Realtors may also falsely represent the quality of a neighborhood, the quality of schools, etc. Likewise, lenders may make false statements or omissions regarding balloon payments, fees included in the loan, and more. When dealing with such professionals, it is important to get important information in writing.
Other Consumer Fraud Examples
There are other examples of consumer fraud that arise in a wide range of contexts. These include bait-and-switch situations where a business may claim to offer product “x” at a low price knowing they will never have it in stock. They will then try to sell more expensive products to customers who come for “x.” Other examples of consumer fraud include misrepresenting a product’s features, misrepresenting return policies, etc. It is also common for businesses to misrepresent the size of their organization, their capabilities, and more.
Whether a business has actually committed “consumer fraud” will always depend on the specific facts of the case. An experienced attorney will give you an honest assessment of your situation.
Contact New Jersey Consumer Fraud Attorney Daniel P. Silberstein For Assistance
Consumer fraud cases can quickly become complicated and whether or not you have a claim can be unclear. Having an experienced lawyer to assist you is an important step in ensuring that your rights are protected. Daniel P. Silberstein is a New Jersey consumer fraud attorney who understands that you are dealing with a serious situation. He will make your case a priority while providing the highest level of representation. Contact us online or by telephone today. Our office is conveniently located in Union County, New Jersey, and we serve clients in Newark, Elizabeth, and more.