State Laws and Agencies
for Consumer Assistance
Title 75 of the Mississippi Code created the state’s Consumer Protection Act. Section 75-24-5 delineates “unfair methods of competition and unfair or deceptive trade practices or acts in the conduct of any trade or commerce,” including misrepresentations of goods and services, false advertising, “bait-and-switch” pricing schemes, and more.
Section 75-24-1 further created an Office of Consumer Protection within the State Attorney General’s Department. The Mississippi Attorney General’s website says that its attorneys “civilly enforce the Mississippi Consumer Protection Act, Mississippi antitrust statutes, the Mississippi data breach notification statute, and other laws such as the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act in order to protect Mississippians.”
Federal Laws Protecting Consumer Rights
In addition to the already-mentioned CFPB, which was created as a result of the Great Recession “to provide a single point of accountability for enforcing federal consumer financial laws and protecting consumers in the financial marketplace,” other federal agencies and statutes also offer protection for consumers.
- The Federal Trade Commission Act (FTCA), enacted in 1914, created the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), whose original goal was to enforce antitrust laws, but with the creation of the Bureau of Consumer Protection, the FTC now vigorously investigates consumer complaints, including deceptive trade practices and violations of consumer protection statutes.
- The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) protects consumers against improper debt collection practices. The law protects personal, family, and household debts but not business debts or debts taken out personally for business purposes. It defines a debt collector as anyone using mail or other instruments of interstate commerce to collect a debt. The FDCPA sets limits on times of the day during which debt collectors can contact consumers, and it allows consumers to require collectors to cease communications except through litigation.
- The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) regulates the actions of consumer credit reporting agencies (CRAs) like Equifax and others, large and small. The legislation requires the CRAs to both keep consumers informed of their credit information being stored and also verify information disputed by consumers. The Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act allows consumers to receive one free credit report each year from each agency.
- The Truth in Lending Act (TILA) is aimed at preventing unfair and deceptive practices by bankers and other lenders. It requires full disclosure of all costs and fees associated with a loan, including interest payments and other costs to be paid over the term of the loan at the time of signing the promissory note. It further gives consumers a three-day right of rescission when it comes to loans and mortgages affecting their residence.
Protecting Your Rights
The agencies enforcing these laws are mostly investigative but can order the correction of wrongs and impose new operating procedures and standards on companies found to be in violation. As a consumer, however, you also have the right to bring a civil suit against an individual or company that has abused your rights as a consumer, or otherwise deceived or taken advantage of you. You can do so even while a federal agency is investigating.
If your claim is for damages of $3,500 or less in Mississippi, you can sue in small claims court either by yourself or with the assistance of legal counsel. There is a three-year statute of limitations for filing such a claim.
If the damages and compensation you seek are greater than $3,500, you would need the assistance of an attorney to file your claim in civil court. If others in addition to you have suffered because of prohibited business practices, you may wish to consider a class-action lawsuit. The standard for certifying class-action is that the number of harmed individuals must be too high to be tried separately, which is a fairly high bar.
If you have suffered injury from using a product you purchased, common law allows for you to file a claim based on three types of defects: defect in design, defect in manufacturing, and defect in marketing (the instructions or warnings were lacking or insufficient, leading to your injury). If you believe you have a case, call or reach out to the Ware Law Firm, PLLC today to schedule a one-on-one consultation!