The Consumer Fraud Act (CFA) Offers A Wide Range Of Consumer Protection
We successfully utilize the Consumer Fraud Act (CFA) in a variety of circumstances where false advertising is involved or where a consumer is sold goods or services that fall short of what was originally promised.
Following recent job market trends, some private vocational schools have marketed an assortment of new programs promising to provide training to prepare students for positions in an assortment of “up and coming” fields. Many of these institutions do not deliver the type of programs they have advertised and sold, resulting in financial harm to these students.
At Scirocco Law, PC, we have represented many former students of institutions defrauded by such schools, as well as victims of contractors, home improvement companies and marketing firms.
Real Estate And The Consumer Fraud Act
The Supreme Court of New Jersey has recently spoken on the CFA regarding a transaction in the sale of real estate. In the case of Tahir Zaman v. Barbara Felton (Decided September 9, 2014), the plaintiff contended that she was the victim of a fraudulent mortgage scheme when she entered into a contract without realizing that the transaction to which she agreed constituted the sale of her property.
The plaintiff brought a CFA claim alleging that the defendant engaged in an unconscionable practice. To prevail on a CFA claim, a plaintiff must prove three things: 1) unlawful conduct by defendant; 2) an ascertainable loss by the plaintiff; 3) a causal relationship between the unlawful conduct and the ascertainable loss. N.J.S.A. 56:8-2
Although the CFA is usually applied in a broad fashion, New Jersey has adopted a stricter standard when it comes to real estate. If an individual is a “nonprofessional” in real estate or does not advertise services to the public and purchases property for personal use or as an investment, the CFA does not apply.
Since the defendant, in this case, was not a professional in the real estate field, the plaintiff’s claim under the CFA was dismissed.
Examples Of Consumer Fraud Protection For Homeowners
In an action involving a plumber who was not paid for work that the homeowner alleged was not completed, the plumber originally filed a criminal complaint with the local municipal court alleging theft of services for the failure of the homeowner to make such payment.
In this matter of Jacobs v. Mark Lindsay and Son Plumbing & Heating, the appellate court ruled that it is an “unconscionable commercial practice” to use the local police department as the plumber’s “debt collection agency,” instead of simply filing a civil suit against the homeowner.
The court in part awarded damages against the plumber for failure to present the homeowner with a written contract specifying the work to be performed and the time in which it would be completed. Treble damages, counsel fees and costs were also awarded to the homeowner for the abuse of process in filing the criminal action by the plumber.
In another recent case, the New Jersey Appellate Division found a person may sue a home inspector under the CFA for money damages because he failed to include in his report the significant problems that he was aware of. This was the recent holding in the case of Shaw v. Shand. As the court ruled, if a case is successfully proven under the Consumer Fraud Act, the party may collect three times the amount of their losses plus attorney’s fees.
Contact An Experienced Team To Learn More About Your Rights
Consumer protection laws are nuanced. While there is much information available on the internet, this area of the law does not lend completely to a do-it-yourself process. Working with an experienced team of attorneys that has in-depth knowledge to draw from can facilitate a successful resolution to your circumstances.