From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Consumer protection is a form of government regulation which protects the interests of consumers. For example, a government may require businesses to disclose detailed information about products—particularly in areas where safety or public health is an issue, such as food. Consumer protection is linked to the idea of consumer rights (that consumers have various rights as consumers), and to the formation of consumer organizations which help consumers make better choices in the marketplace.
Consumer protection law or consumer law is considered an area of public law that regulates private law relationships between individual consumers and the businesses that sell them goods and services. Consumer protection covers a wide range of topics including but not necessarily limited to product liability, privacy rights, unfair business practices, fraud, misrepresentation, and other consumer/business interactions.
Such laws deal with bankruptcy, credit repair, debt repair, product safety, service contracts, bill collector regulation, pricing, utility turnoffs, consolidation and much more.
In specific countries
In the United States there are a variety of laws at both the federal or state levels that regulate consumer affairs. Among them are the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, the Fair Credit Reporting Act, Truth in Lending Act, Fair Credit Billing Act, and the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act. Federal consumer protection laws are mainly enforced by the Federal Trade Commission and the U.S. Department of Justice.
At the state level, many states have a Department of Consumer Affairs devoted to regulating certain industries and protecting consumers who regularly use goods and services from those industries.
For example, in the U.S. state of California, the California Department of Consumer Affairs regulates about 2.3 million professionals in over 230 different professions through its 40 regulatory entities. In addition, California encourages its consumers to act as private attorneys general through the liberal provisions of its Consumers Legal Remedies Act, Cal. Civil Code § 1750 et seq. California has the nation’s strongest consumer protection laws due in part to the rigorous advocacy and lobbying by groups such as Consumer Federation of California and Privacy Rights Clearinghouse.
A large part of German consumer protection law has been enacted pursuant to European Directives (e.g. the directives on door-to-door sales, consumer credits, distance selling, package tours, product liability etc.). In 2002, a large part of this legislation was integrated into the German Civil Code ("Bürgerliches Gesetzbuch").
A minister of the federal cabinet is responsible for consumer rights and protection (Verbraucherschutzminister). In the current cabinet of Angela Merkel, this is Horst Seehofer.
When issuing public warnings about products and services, the issuing authority has to take into account that this affects the supplier's constitutionally protected economic liberty (article 12 Basic Law, see Bundesverwaltungsgericht (Federal Administrative Court)Case 3 C 34.84, 71 BVerwGE 183.
In the UK, consumer laws are enforced nationally by the Office of Fair Trading which is the UK's consumer and competition watchdog, with a remit to make markets work well for consumers, and at a local, municipal level by Trading Standards departments.. In New Zealand, the corresponding agency is the Ministry of Consumer Affairs  and the New Zealand Commerce Commission . In Australia the corresponding agency is the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission or the individual State Consumer Affairs agencies.
Consumer advocacy groups
- Consumers International - International NGO
- Consumers' Federation of Australia
- Australian Consumers Association
- Canberra Consumers
- [Not Good Enough.com]
- [Choice Magazine ]
- Stiftung Warentest
- Consumers' Associations in Italy
- Which? - formerly the Consumers Association - a consumer advocacy organisation which has substantial powers (for example to take representative actions under the Competition Act 1998) but which is primarily a lobbying organisation funded entirely by subscriptions to its regular consumer information magazine.
- CAMRA - a lobbying group concerned with the tradition and quality of beer - a consumer advocacy organisation of sorts, but only in relation to a particular market sector
- The Citizen's Advice Bureau, a free service that provides legal advice, practical help and information on consumer rights across the country.
- The National Consumer Council
- Better Business Bureau
- Consumers Union, publishers of Consumer Reports
- Public Citizen
- Consumer Federation of America
- Center for Science in the Public Interest
- Ralph Nader
- Michael Vernon
- Class action
- Competition policy
- Competition regulator
- Extended warranty
- Fairtrade labelling
- Food safety
- List of articles related to quackery
- Mandatory labelling
- Product recall
- Predatory mortgage lending
- Transparency (market)
- Unfair competition
- Competition law
- Digital Media Consumers' Rights Act
- Consumer Education and Research Centre (CERC)(India)
- Consumer protection information (U.S.)
- List of Consumer Rights as stated by the Government of India
- New Zealand Consumer Rights