Law Office Of Paul DePetris
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New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act FAQs

INTRODUCTION
Read below to learn more about this topic.  Or, to receive a no cost phone consultation, call Mr. DePetris at 609-714-2020 or send him an email.  Warning – this article does not necessarily include every New Jersey court rule, code or law that may apply to your New Jersey case!  The Law Office of Paul DePetris does not guarantee that the statutes, rules, codes, files or forms on this website are the latest versions, that they lack typographical errors or that they have not changed, repealed or superseded by other laws.  Before taking any action, read all applicable federal and state source law and case law and consult with an attorney.  Court addresses, hours of operation and directions may change so check with the court in advance of mailing documents to court or going there!  Some of the webpages on this site don’t apply to all types of New Jersey cases, since there are different rules for different case types!


NEW JERSEY CONSUMER FRAUD ACT FAQS


WHAT IS THE NEW JERSEY CONSUMER FRAUD ACT?
The following article answers some frequently asked questions about the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act.  Many people ask, what is the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act?  Consumer Fraud is a very serious problem, causing many Customers financial losses and inconvenience when they unwittingly become Victims.   The Consumer Fraud Act is a powerful law that regulates Business that sell a variety of goods and services in New Jersey and in some cases, from New Jersey.   Many Customers are victims of Consumer Fraud.  Some Consumer Fraud cases involve specific violations of New Jersey regulations or New Jersey laws, while others involve less obvious types of misconduct.  Many of us have heard the Latin phrase caveat emptor: “let the buyer beware.” That statement allows little relief to a Consumer.  That statement does not reflect current law in New Jersey. Here, we have a more ethical approach in business dealings with one another.  Therefore, each of us may rely on representations made by another in a Business transaction. This approach is reflected in a New Jersey law, the Consumer Fraud Act.  The Consumer Fraud Act allows New Jersey plaintiffs to win Consumer Fraud triple damages as well as a Consumer Fraud refund and other types of nonmonetary relief.  Although initially designed to combat "sharp practices and dealings" that victimized consumers by luring them into purchases through fraudulent or deceptive means, the Consumer Fraud Act is no longer aimed solely at "shifty, fast-talking and deceptive merchant[s]" but reaches "nonsoliciting artisans" as well. Thus, the Consumer Fraud Act is designed to protect the public even when a merchant acts in good faith.  Moreover, the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act's includes a provision authorizing consumers to bring their own private actions, which is integral to fulfilling the legislative purposes of the Consumer Fraud Act.  The State does not have the resources to fight all Consumer Fraud but the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act allows private attorneys to represent Customers and to fight for their rights against fraudulent Business.  If you believe that you were a victim of consumer fraud, get a no obligation consultation from an experienced New Jersey consumer fraud lawyer.


HOW DOES THE NEW JERSEY CONSUMER FRAUD ACT HELP VICTIMS?
To answer the question what is the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act, one must understand how the act helps victims?  In 1960, the New Jersey Legislature passed the Consumer Fraud Act "to permit the New Jersey Attorney General to combat the increasingly widespread practice of defrauding the consumer."   The Consumer Fraud Act conferred on the Attorney General the power to investigate New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act complaints and promulgate rules and regulations that have the force of law. In 1971, the New Jersey Legislature amended the Consumer Fraud Act to "give New Jersey one of the strongest consumer protection laws in the nation."  The New Jersey Legislature expanded the definition of "unlawful practice" to include "unconscionable commercial practices" and broadened the New Jersey Attorney General's enforcement powers. That amendment also provided for private causes of action, with an award of treble damages, attorneys' fees, and costs.  The State’s government believed that those provisions would provide "easier access to the courts for the consumer [would] increase the attractiveness of consumer actions to attorneys and [would] also help reduce the burdens on the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs."   The New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act provides that:  (1) The Consumer Fraud Act, use or employment by any person of any unconscionable commercial practice, deception, fraud, false pretense, false promise, misrepresentation, or the knowing, concealment, suppression, or omission of any material fact with intent that others rely upon such concealment, suppression or omission, in connection with the sale or with the subsequent performance of such person as aforesaid, whether or not any person has in fact been misled, deceived or damaged thereby, is declared to be an unlawful practice; (2) any person who suffers any ascertainable loss of moneys or property, real or personal, as a result of the use or employment by another person of any method, act, or practice declared unlawful under this act may bring an action. In any action under Consumer Fraud Act the court shall, in addition to any other appropriate legal or equitable relief, award Consumer Fraud triple damages. In all actions under Consumer Fraud Act the court shall also provide a Consumer Fraud attorney’s fee award of reasonable attorneys' fees, filing fees and reasonable costs of suit.  New Jersey courts have emphasized that like most remedial legislation, the Consumer Fraud Act should be construed liberally in favor of consumers.   The New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act is broad remedial legislation enacted for the protection of consumers of a variety of goods and services, and its history has been marked by the constant expansion of consumer protection.  


TYPES OF CONSUMER FRAUD CASES
Consumers increasingly find themselves involved in Consumer Fraud cases when they are victimized by shifty, fast talking merchants who commit Consumer Fraud.   There are many types of Consumer Fraud cases.   Consumers can be victims of Consumer Fraud affirmative act violations, Consumer Fraud knowing omission violations, Consumer Fraud per se violations and Consumer Fraud bait and switch violations.   Here are but a few examples of areas in which Consumer Fraud Cases are brought:
Temporary help services
Junk faxes
Internet dating services
Prepaid phone cards
Gift cards
Child products
Watercraft sales & repairs
Vehicle protection products
Automobile sales, leases & repairs
Tires
Real estate sales
Home improvement
Industrial hygiene
Refund policies
Simulating government agencies
merchandise tagging 
merchandise advertising
merchandise rainchecks 
Prizewinning sales
Health club contracts
Household furnishings delivery
Mail order sales
Restaurant menus
Unsolicited checks & credit cards
Meat sold at retail
Kosher & Halal food
Telemarketing calls
Informational services
Personal information security
Pet sales
Hazardous products
Going out of business sales
Safety professionals
This article discusses Consumer Fraud and the powerful law that protects Consumers – the Consumer Fraud Act.  Because Consumers can recover Consumer Fraud triple damages a Consumer Fraud refund and Consumer Fraud attorney’s fee award, the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act is a powerful weapon against Consumer Fraud. 


NEW JERSEY CONSUMER FRAUD TRIPLE DAMAGE AWARDS
Consumer Fraud triple damages, also called Consumer Fraud treble damages, are available to certain Consumer Fraud plaintiffs.  Consumer Fraud triple damages are an important part of the Consumer Fraud Act.  The tripling of the Consumer Fraud damages award is meant to punish the Consumer Fraud defendant.  


NEW JERSEY CONSUMER FRAUD REFUNDS
In addition to allowing Fraud victims to recover Consumer Fraud treble damages, the Consumer Fraud Act focuses on allowing individual consumers to recover Consumer Fraud refunds for losses caused by Consumer Fraud Act violations Any person violating the Consumer Fraud Act shall be liable for a Consumer Fraud refund of all moneys acquired by means of any practice declared in the Consumer Fraud Act to be unlawful.   The Consumer Fraud refund of moneys may be recovered in a private action.   


NEW JERSEY CONSUMER FRAUD ATTORNEY’S FEE AWARDS 
In a consumer fraud action, the Legislature has recognized that the right of access to the courts is meaningless unless the injured party has the resources to launch a suit.  Consumer Fraud Attorney’s Fee Awards provide incentives to competent New Jersey attorneys to undertake high-risk cases and to represent victims of fraud who suffer relatively minor losses.  In this way, Consumer Fraud Attorney’s Fee Awards is the Legislature's attempt to provide equal access to the courts by encouraging private enforcement of law.   The Legislature intended plaintiffs to have access to the court system to pursue relatively small claims against deceptive retailers.  In that respect, the Consumer Fraud Attorney's Fees provision one of the deterrent aspects of the legislation, and therefore, fraudulent retailers should beware.   If the New Jersey court award damages to a Consumer Fraud plaintiff, the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act also requires the New Jersey court to award Consumer Fraud attorney’s fees against the Consumer Fraud defendant.   The Consumer Fraud defendant could face a judgment to pay whatever reasonable Consumer Fraud attorney’s fees that the Consumer Fraud plaintiff incurred in the Consumer Fraud case.  Only a New Jersey judge decides the proper amount of a Consumer Fraud attorney’s fee award.  


WHAT ARE THE TYPES OF NEW JERSEY CONSUMER FRAUD ACT VIOLATIONS?
There are three possible types of New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act violations.  Two Consumer Fraud Act violations are violations of section 2 of the Consumer Fraud Act:  (1) Consumer Fraud affirmative acts; (2) Consumer Fraud knowing omissions; and (3) Consumer Fraud per se violations of either specific-situation New Jersey law violations or Consumer Fraud regulation violations. 


NEW JERSEY CONSUMER FRAUD AFFIRMATIVE ACT VIOLATIONS
Consumer Fraud cases can involve Consumer Fraud affirmative act violations.  The first category of Consumer Fraud Act violation makes “any unconscionable commercial practice, deception, fraud, false pretense, false promise or misrepresentation” unlawful.  These are considered Consumer Fraud affirmative act violations because the merchant actually does something affirmatively – takes one or more steps and thereby commits a Consumer Fraud affirmative act violation.   If you were a victim of an affirmative act violation, let an experienced New Jersey consumer fraud lawyer represent you or your business in your Consumer lawsuit.


NEW JERSEY CONSUMER FRAUD KNOWING OMISSION VIOLATIONS
Consumer Fraud cases can involve Consumer Fraud knowing omission violations.
The second category of Consumer Fraud Act violation involves the “knowing concealment, suppression or omission of any material fact.”  These are considered conduct by omission and are therefore called Consumer Fraud knowing omission violations.  If you believe that you were a victim of consumer fraud, get a no obligation consultation from an experienced New Jersey consumer fraud lawyer.


NEW JERSEY CONSUMER FRAUD PER SE VIOLATIONS?
Consumer Fraud cases can also involve Consumer Fraud per se violations.  The third type of basis for liability under the Consumer Fraud Act involves either a specific-situation New Jersey law or administrative regulations enacted to interpret the Consumer Fraud Act itself.  These are called Consumer Fraud per se violations.   Such New Jersey law and regulations define specific conduct prohibited by law.  A Consumer Fraud per se violation occurs when a New Jersey merchant violates a specific-situation New Jersey law or Consumer Fraud administrative regulations.  If you believe that you were a victim of consumer fraud, get a no obligation consultation from an experienced New Jersey consumer fraud lawyer.


NEW JERSEY CONSUMER FRAUD ADMINISTRATIVE REGULATION VIOLATIONS
The following are examples of some Consumer Fraud Act administrative regulations which may be violated by the conduct of a business:
SUBCHAPTER 1 - DECEPTIVE MAIL ORDER PRACTICES
SUBCHAPTER 2 - MOTOR VEHICLE ADVERTISING PRACTICES
SUBCHAPTER 3 - SALE OF MEAT AT RETAIL
SUBCHAPTER 4 - BANNED HAZARDOUS PRODUCTS
SUBCHAPTER 5 - DELIVERY OF HOUSEHOLD FURNITURE & FURNISHINGS
SUBCHAPTER 6 - DECEPTIVE PRACTICES CONCERNING AUTOMOTIVE SALES PRACTICES
SUBCHAPTER 7 - DECEPTIVE PRACTICES CONCERNING AUTOMOTIVE REPAIRS AND
ADVERTISING
SUBCHAPTER 8 - TIRE DISTRIBUTORS AND DEALERS
SUBCHAPTER 9 - MERCHANDISE ADVERTISING
SUBCHAPTER 10 - SERVICING & REPAIRING OF HOME APPLIANCES
SUBCHAPTER 11 - (RESERVED)
SUBCHAPTER 12 - SALE OF ANIMALS
SUBCHAPTER 13 - POWERS TO BE EXERCISED BY COUNTY AND MUNICIPAL OFFICERS OF
CONSUMER AFFAIRS
SUBCHAPTER 14 - UNIT PRICING OF CONSUMER COMMODITIES IN RETAIL ESTABLISHMENTS
SUBCHAPTER 15 - DISCLOSURE OF REFUND POLICY IN RETAIL ESTABLISHMENT
SUBCHAPTER 16 - HOME IMPROVEMENT PRACTICES
SUBCHAPTER 17 - SALE OF ADVERTISING IN JOURNALS RELATING OR PURPORTING TO 
RELATE TO POLICE, FIREFIGHTING OR CHARITABLE ORGANIZATIONS
SUBCHAPTER 18 - PLAIN LANGUAGE REVIEW
SUBCHAPTER 19 - (RESERVED)
SUBCHAPTER 20 - RESALE OF TICKETS OF ADMISSION TO PLACES OF ENTER¬TAINMENT
SUBCHAPTER 21 - REPRESENTATIONS CONCERNING AND REQUIREMENTS FOR THE SALE OF
KOSHER FOOD
SUBCHAPTER 22 - INSPECTIONS OF KOSHER MEAT DEALERS AND KOSHER POULTRY
DEALERS; RECORDS REQUIRED TO BE MAINTAINED BY KOSHER MEAT DEALERS AND 
KOSHER POULTRY DEALERS
SUBCHAPTER 23 - DECEPTIVE PRACTICES CONCERNING WATERCRAFT REPAIR


NEW JERSEY CONSUMER FRAUD LAW VIOLATIONS
The following are examples of Consumer Fraud per se law violations:
56:8-2.1 Operation simulating governmental agency
56:8-2.2 Scheme not to sell as advertised
56:8-2.3 Notification of prize winner
56:8-2.4 Picturing assembled merchandise
56:8-2.5 Selling item without price label
56:8-2.7 False solicitation of contribution
56:8-2.8 Going out of business sale
56:8-2.9 Misrepresentation of food
56:8-2.14 Refund Policy Disclosure Act
56:8-2.22 Providing copy of contract to consumer
56:8-2.23 Soliciting used goods
56:8-21 Unit Price Disclosure Act
56:8-26 Resale of tickets


CONSUMER FRAUD BAIT AND SWITCH VIOLATIONS
Consumer Fraud cases can involve Consumer Fraud bait and switch violations.  In the typical Consumer Fraud bait and switch violation, the Consumer is shown or views an advertisement for one kind of goods or merchandise and then the merchant misleads the Consumer into buying a different kind of goods or service – one more expensive or less valuable than the one originally shown, offered for sale or advertised.   For example, Consumer Fraud bait and switch violations commonly occur in New Jersey car sales when an advertisement lists a phantom vehicle that doesn’t exist and when the Consumer goes to the New Jersey car dealer to buy the vehicle, the Consumer learns that the vehicle is not available for sale but a more expensive car is available.


AN EXPERIENCED NEW JERSEY CONSUMER FRAUD LAWYER FOR HANDLING CONSUMER LAWSUITS AND DISPUTES FOR BOTH INDIVIDUALS AND BUSINESSES
Let an experienced New Jersey consumer fraud lawyer represent you or your business in your Consumer lawsuit.   Paul DePetris has represented consumers, home buyers, home sellers, home repair customers, home repair contractors, home inspectors, real estate brokers, real estate agents, junk yard dealers, automobile purchasers and owners, new and used car dealers, banks and automotive lenders, boat purchasers and owners, watercraft purchasers and owners and marinas in consumer fraud lawsuits and other consumer lawsuits and consumer disputes.  Mr. DePetris appeared in court in consumer fraud lawsuits and other types of consumer lawsuits. As an experienced New Jersey consumer fraud lawyer, Mr. DePetris has mediated, arbitrated and tried consumer fraud lawsuits and other types of consumer lawsuits.  In addition to representing consumers in a variety of consumer lawsuits and defending businesses in a variety of consumer lawsuits, Paul DePetris provides consulting services to law firms handing consumer lawsuits and defending consumer lawsuits.  Paul DePetris has represented the following persons and businesses in Consumer lawsuits.  Mr. DePetris has also taught hundreds of lawyers and nonlawyers about consumer law in consumer fraud cases.  Mr. DePetris is also the author of the following publications about consumer fraud:  New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act & Forms (New Jersey Law Journal Books); Learned Professionals, Licensed Semiprofessionals and the Consumer Fraud Act:  The Origins of the Licensed Professionals’ Doctrine (New Jersey Lawyer, Oct. 2008); Liability For Consumer Fraud In Real Estate Transactions (New Jersey Law Journal, March 18, 2009).   Don’t give up your rights or take a chance in ruining your case!  Let an experienced New Jersey Consumer fraud lawyer help you understand your rights under the law.   










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