Every consumer who makes a purchase is entitled to certain rights.

These rights offer protection at every stage of the purchasing process. They take effect before the buyer pays the seller any money and can last until years after the sale, in some cases. If you understand your legal rights, you will be better prepared to make informed choices as a consumer.

The federal and state governments have enacted various laws and regulations to protect consumers, including the following:

  • The Telemarketing and Consumer Fraud and Abuse Prevention Act, Title 15 of the US Code, Sections 6101 to 6108;
  • The Electronic Fund Transfer Act, Title 15 of the US Code, Section 1693 to 1693r;
  • The Credit Repair Organizations Act, Title 15 of the US Code, Section 1697i(b) and (c);
  • The Rights to Financial Privacy Act, Title 12 of the US Code, Section 3401;
  • The Fair Credit and Charge Card Disclosure Act, Title 15 of the US Code Section 1637c-1637g;
  • The Fair Credit Reporting Act, Title 15 of the US Code, Section 1681;
  • The Home Mortgage Disclosure Act, Title 12 of the US Code, Section 2810a- 2810c; and
  • The Truth in Lending Act, Title 15 of the US Code, Sections 1601-1667f.

Federal and state agencies enforce these laws and regulations. Federal agencies include the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), and the Food and Drug Administration.

If you are interested in information about telemarketing, sweepstakes scams, purchases made from home, warranties, and returning merchandise, read the articles listed below this page. For guidance about disputing a consumer claim through alternate dispute resolution, see Arbitration/Mediation. If you are considering pursuing your matter in court, get information on the court system in that section of the website.


Telemarketing is a popular sales technique. Unfortunately, it is a practice that has raised numerous consumer complaints ranging from reports of annoying phone calls to charges of fraud. However, knowledge of the types of pitfalls that telemarketing can present to the consumer can help you avoid them. If you have already encountered a problem with a telemarketer or need more information about a particular telemarketer, there are several agencies that can assist you.

Sweepstakes scams are a common type of consumer fraud. In fact, the Telemarketing and Consumer Fraud and Abuse Prevention Act is specifically designed to protect consumers from sweepstakes scams. If someone contacts you and claims to have a prize “waiting for you,” you should know how to determine whether or not the call is legitimate. There are various hints that may suggest that the call is simply an attempt to take advantage of your excitement over having won the sweepstakes. In addition, you can contact organizations that specialize in determining the legitimacy of such calls.

Purchases Made From Home

If you are like most consumers today, you are probably making more purchases from home than ever. These include door-to-door, telephone, and Internet purchases. The nature of these transactions raises unique consumer rights issues. You might be entitled to certain legal protections that would otherwise be unavailable. For instance, the Federal Trade Commission’s Cooling-Off Rule permits you to cancel certain purchases made from home. These sorts of purchases can also implicate privacy concerns that have led to laws governing the use of the information you provide sellers. There are ways you can minimize the chances your privacy will be violated by individuals or companies that sell you products.

Warranties on Consumer Products

Warranties are promises made by the seller or manufacturer when you buy consumer goods. In order to protect your purchases, you need to know the scope of your warranty, the period of coverage, and how to obtain service if it becomes necessary. The Magnuson-Moss Act of 1975 governs this area of consumer law and articulates your rights as the warranty beneficiary as well as the obligations of the seller offering the warranty.

Returning Merchandise

If you have purchased merchandise (or received unordered merchandise) and have decided to return it for whatever reason, there are certain rules with which you should be familiar. The reasons for your dissatisfaction may range from a defective product to your simply changing your mind. Regardless of the basis for your decision, certain rights are implicated. In addition, if you need to write a complaint letter for any reason, you must include certain specific information in order to expect positive results. Further, if you encounter problems returning your merchandise, there are alternative dispute resolution processes that may be available to you.

See also…

Consumer Complaints