New Jersey Consumer Protection Lawyers
Overview of the New Jersey State Consumer Fraud Act
When fraud occurs, New Jersey residents are protected under the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act (CFA). The CFA allows for compensation after fraud if certain conditions are met. For fraudulent transactions that take place in New Jersey, victims can recoup treble damages plus attorney fees.
New Jersey’s Consumer Fraud Act defines consumer fraud as any misrepresentation, false pretense, deception or other unconscionable business practices that occur during the sales process. “Sale” is loosely defined to include distribution and rentals, as well as sales offers even if the sale is never finalized. According to the CFA, fraud is committed when there has been misrepresentation, known omission or legal violations.
How Consumer Fraud May Occur
- Affirmative misrepresentation occurs when untrue facts are presented to the consumer regardless of whether or not the presenter knows it is untrue. The CFA allows for unintentional or negligent actions to be classified as consumer fraud.
- Known omission is intentional fraud that occurs when an unscrupulous business person withholds important information from the consumer before a transaction.
- Legal violation and the CFA overlap when the fraud involves specific actions already prohibited by law.
If fraud occurs through any of these three means, the victims must then prove that the fraud resulted in ascertainable loss or quantifiable damages. Ascertainable loss can apply to future losses that the plaintiff expects to experience due to the fraudulent actions.
What is Covered by the Consumer Fraud Act?
Areas that may be covered under the Consumer Fraud Act include vehicle sale, lease or repair, watercraft repair and home appliance repair. Home improvements and furniture delivery are also covered, as well as refund and purchase policies through catalog orders and retail stores. If a consumer’s rights have been violated in any of these areas, victims have the right to pursue compensation.
In order for fraud victims to be protected under the CFA, both aspects of the transaction must occur in New Jersey. This means that New Jersey residents purchasing items from businesses in the Garden State are protected. If a purchase is handled through out-of-state retailers or set to be delivered to an out-of-state address, consumers have no protections if fraud occurs.
Parties that violate the Consumer Fraud Act and are found guilty by the court will be ordered to pay the victim triple the amount of damages that they have suffered. This amount is mandatory and not subject to settlement negotiations. In addition to treble damages, the guilty party must pay all the victims attorney fees. Fraud is not covered under insurance, leaving the perpetrator liable for all fees.
New Jersey Consumer Fraud Lawyers Eichen Crutchlow Zaslow & McElroy, LLP are Advocates for Consumer Protection Laws
All types and number of offenders can be held liable for damages under the NJ Consumer Fraud Act. Individuals and groups, corporations and partnerships, members and stockholders could all be equally guilty in the eyes of the law, depending on the specifics of the claim. Limited Liability Companies (LLC) can also be held personally accountable for any fraudulent actions the company takes. The CFA will hold individuals accountable versus their employers if it can be proved that the individual was working alone without their employer’s knowledge. Additionally, if a business has been defrauded, it is protected under the CFA and can seek compensation for its damages.
While the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act covers a variety of fraudulent actions, fraud victims should be sure to discuss their cases with experienced New Jersey fraud lawyers. The CFA has several exceptions, so it is important to partner with the right lawyer who can offer you advice on how to use the Consumer Fraud Act to your advantage. At Eichen Crutchlow Zaslow & McElroy, LLP, our team is dedicated to helping fraud victims will all their legal needs. Call us today at 1-732-777-0100 or contact us online to schedule your complimentary consultation at our offices in Red Bank, Toms River or Edison, New Jersey.