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State Consumer Protection Laws

22. What role do states play in consumer protection?

States pass and enforce any number of consumer protection laws. These laws sometimes offer protections in addition to those offered by federal law. State laws protecting consumers are generally known as Unfair and Deceptive Practices (UDAP) statutes. Common areas regulated by UDAP statutes include: extension of credit, insurance, utilities, post-sales acts, and real estate.

•    Example: A commonly recognized type of state consumer protection statute concerns the sale of automobiles. These statutes grant the purchaser of an automobile the right to return the automobile within a specified period of time if the purchaser identifies mechanical issues in the vehicle. These are commonly known as “lemon laws”.

•    Discussion: Why do you think states feel the need to offer additional protections beyond those afforded by federal law? Can you think of any advantages to seeking enforcement of one’s rights under state, rather than federal, law?

•    Practice Question: Patrick believes that he has been defrauded by a local used car salesman. He is considering bringing a legal action against the car dealer. What are Patrick’s options with regard the jurisdiction and type of legal action to bring against the dealer?

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