Have you been ripped off by a car dealer, a home improvement contractor or some other business. Remember, there is no such thing as a “free lunch.” Anytime someone is trying to sell you something, you should take everything they say with a grain of salt. This is particularly true when you purchase your car, buy a home, and hire someone to remodel your house, or pay for any other type of goods and/or services and particularly where you are entering into some type of written agreement.
Unfortunately, we live in a society today where some businesses make claims or representations that turn out not to be true or omit to tell you an important item, for example, that an automobile has been in a severe prior accident or a home has a wet basement. Make no mistake, fraud is rampant in New Jersey. The Division of Consumer Affairs reports that the biggest source of complaints are about car dealers and home improvement contractors. However there are other dishonest businesses that rip off consumers for small amounts of money – which add up to a lot of profits for the business. When the amount of small, you may think that your damages are too small to hire an attorney and may not be worth the time to do something about it.
THE NEW JERSEY CONSUMER FRAUD ACT
Fortunately, New Jersey has a remedy – the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act-the strongest consumer protection law in the nation. If you have been the victim of a misrepresentation, deception, fraud, false pretense or the omission of an important material fact, you may be entitled to three times your damages plus payment of your attorney’s fees by the defendant business if you have suffered the loss of money.
The Consumer Fraud Act covers almost every sale of merchandise and services. The purpose of the Act is to promote honesty and fair dealing in the marketplace. For example, any affirmative misrepresentation by a seller results in liability regardless of whether the representation was made in good faith or negligently. Businesses are presumed to have a superior knowledge of the goods and services that they sell as well as superior knowledge of the laws and regulations that govern your business. Accordingly, they are strictly liable for committing consumer fraud.
The purpose of the act is to encourage private attorneys to represent consumers in disputes that involve small damages otherwise consumers would not be able to obtain representation. The defendant is required to pay the successful consumer’s attorney’s fees and costs.
AN OUNCE OF PREVENTION IS WORTH A POUND OF CURE
When you deal with a home-improvement contractor or other seller, try to limit the amount that you make as a down payment. The more money that you give a contractor upfront, the more chance you will have that they will delay the job, not return to finish work or not make corrections. There have been many stories where a contractor takes a deposit and never returns to start to work or does a little bit and then does not return.
When purchasing a used car, you should always get a CARFAX and you should always take the vehicle to your trusted mechanic to have it tested. Make sure that any verbal representations that are made to convince you to make a purchase are put in writing. Always read the agreement. Many times, the agreements contain paragraphs that limit the liability of the seller, require you to give up consumer protection rights, or say things that are completely opposite from that which the seller has verbally promised. Although “Buyer Beware” is not the law in New Jersey, not reading or understanding the terms of the agreement you sign is no defense—the seller is not required to explain the agreement and you cannot rely on the verbal representations when entering into a written contract.
FREE CONSULTATION & FREE ARTICLES
Our firm handles consumer fraud claims on a contingency basis. If there is no recovery, there is no fee. You are not asked to pay any attorney’s fees upfront because if we are successful, the defendant seller will pay your fees.
If you would like a copy of our articles on buying an automobile, dealing with a home-improvement contractor or protecting yourself from identity theft, email me anytime at the address below and we will send you a copy. We are also always available for free consultation or to answer any question about a contract or a consumer fraud matter.
Telephone 856-797-9951 anytime 24/7 or email me at email@example.com.
DeNittis Osefchen Prince managing partner Stephen DeNittis is the current co-chair of the Consumer Law Section of the New Jersey Association of Justice is a Certified Civil Trial Attorney by the Supreme Court of new Jersey and frequently lectures on consumer protection and is recognized by his peers as an expert on consumer fraud litigation.