Since the 1960’s, the U.S. consumer has seen a steady stream of federal and state legislation directed at the protection of their rights in an ever-changing marketplace. Much of it has been directed at enactment of a Consumer Bill of Rights: the Right to Safety, the Right to Be Informed, the Right to Choose, the Right to Be Heard. However, the legal basis for much of this “newer” legislation was enacted in the earlier decades of the Twentieth Century.
Foods and Drugs
The Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906 was the beginning of a series of laws enacted under the Constitution’s Commerce Clause that prohibited the interstate transportation and sale of adulterated food. Further amendments addressed specified foods blended, coated, colored or stained to conceal inferiority. Enforcement was assigned to the Department of Agriculture.
In 1938, the 1906 statute was replaced with the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act. The Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act and its numerous amendments regulates the safety and quality of foods and drugs under the enforcement of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. In effect, it is a “truth in labeling” law for the food and drug industries. The standards for drugs are in the U.S. Pharmacopoeia and the National Formulary.
Federal Trade Commission Act
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is an independent agency of the United States government that was established in 1914 by the Federal Trade Commission Act to prevent unfair competition by monopolies and trusts. After 1938, the FTC assumed the enforcement and promulgation of regulations concerning consumer protection through its Bureau of Consumer Protection. The FTC continues to institute new regulations in defense of consumer rights.
Consumer Product Safety Act
The Consumer Product Safety Act (CPSA) was enacted in 1972 to address the safety of products other than foods, drugs, automobiles, and other products under other federal jurisdiction. The CPSA established the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) as an independent agency of the federal government to establish and enforce product standards and testing regulations. The CPSC also enforces placement of product testing and warning labels.
The CPSC has the power to demand notification of defective products, pursue recalls or to ban a product. With jurisdiction over thousands of commercial products, the CPSC continues to develop regulations to protect against consumer products that present unreasonable risks of injury or death. The CPSA also provides for the protection of whistle-blowers.
The 1968 Truth in Lending Act (TILA) mandated clear disclosure of terms, all costs and lending conditions before entering a contract. An amendment to TILA, the1975 Fair Credit Billing Act (FCBA), addressed unfair billing practices. Additionally, in 1989, the Fair Credit and Charge Card Disclosure Act (FCCCA) specified terms to be disclosed such as APR, minimum finance charges, late payment fees, annual fees, etc.
The 1970 Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) governs the collection and use of consumer credit information. The 1978 Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) addressed abusive collection practices and provided for credit repair. The 2003 Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACTA) requires one credit report be provided annually to all consumers.
In response to the financial crisis of 2007–2010, congress enacted the 2011 Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act to promote financial stability and to protect taxpayers by ending “too big to fail” bailouts. The Dodd–Frank Act extends the regulation of financial markets and greatly expands the types and number of investment advisers coming under SEC regulation to include hedge funds and private equity firms. Additionally, the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection was created to regulate bankers and other creditors.
This article was written by Robert Tritter, a writer of various law-related articles on the web. He writes this on behalf of The Spencer Law Firm. If you’re in need of a top Consumer Rights lawyer in California, make sure to see what they can do for you.