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Consumer Fraud

The New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act (CFA) is governed by N.J.S.A. 56:8-1.  The CFA protects consumers from sales fraud of all types, including fraud in car sales, fraud of consumer goods, and deceptive practices by contractors.  Some of the most common areas of Consumer Fraud are listed below:

  • Auto Industry- New Jersey's Consumer Fraud Act applies to sales, leases, financing and repairs of automobiles. Additionally, the Department of Community Affairs has issued detailed regulations which auto dealers must comply with. Any deceptive practice or violation of these regulations can be grounds for a consumer fraud claim examples include:
    • Lying about the terms of financing
    • Using “bait and switch” advertising tactics
    • Selling a damaged or defective automobile
    • Lying about the vehicle's warranty
    • Lying about the repair history or condition
    • Lying about the price, including using hidden or undisclosed fees
    • Charging excess fees (higher fees than were actually incurred)
    • Misrepresenting the price of a vehicle in an advertisement
    • Misleading advertisements or statements
    • Odometer rollbacks and VIN switches
  • Home Improvement Industry- The New Jersey DCA has strict regulations governing home improvement contractors. Home improvement contractors who do not comply with these regulations are guilty of consumer fraud, entitling the homeowner to triple damages and reimbursement of their attorneys fees. Some of the regulations are:
    • All home improvement contracts must be in writing
    • The contract must include the following
      • The name and address of the contractor
      • Start and stop dates
      • A description of all work to be done
      • A description of the supplies to be used
      • All warranties
      • The contractor's license number with the DCA
      • A copy of the contractor's general commercial liability policy and the insurance company's phone number
      • The total price, including fees and finance charges
      • Specific language allowing for cancellation of the contract by the homeowner cancellation of the contract and refund of amounts paid
    • Specific acts or omissions by home improvement contracts also constitute consumer fraud, including these:
      • Demanding final payment before the job is complete
      • Misrepresenting the materials to be used on the job
      • Failing to get permits, or beginning work before obtaining proper permits
      • Make disparaging misrepresentations about a competitor
      • “Bait and switch” sales tactics
      • Failing to provide copies of the contract,
      • insurance certificates or warranties.
  • Health Clubs- New Jersey Consumer Fraud laws and regulations govern the conduct of health clubs.
    • Health club contracts must be in writing
    • The customer must be given a written copy of the contract
    • It must conspicuously contain the total price
    • The contract must state that a bond, irrevocable
    • letter of credit or other security is filed with the DCA
    • The contract cannot be for more than three years
    • It must provide that the customer can cancel the contract within three days after signing and get a refund
    • The contract must provide for cancellation upon the member's death or permanent disability
    • It must provide that the customer can cancel if they move more than 25 miles from the club or an affiliate
    • Members cannot be required to renew their contract
  • Employment Agencies- There are laws and regulations governing full-time and temporary employment agencies. Violation of the rules governing temporary employment agencies can constitute "per se" violations of New Jersey's Consumer Fraud Act. Violations of any rules for permanent or temporary employment agencies may give rise to liability for consumer fraud depending on the circumstances. These requirements include the following:
    • An employment agency must be duly licensed with the state of New Jersey.
    • It cannot use deceptive or misleading advertising
    • All contracts between the employment agency and a job seeker must be in writing, and the agency cannot accept a fee without a written contract
    • The contract must clearly state that it gives no guarantees of employment
    • The contract must give the employee three calendar days to cancel
    • The contract must clearly state all fees and clearly describe the services to be provided by the agency
    • The agency must give the job seeker copies of every document she has signed
    • It must post how the fees to be paid by a job seeker are computed
    • The agency cannot charge a temporary employee fees for permanent employment unless a temporary position becomes a permanent one within 30 days
    • Job seekers cannot be charged more than 1% per day of the fee on the schedule per day if they were discharged without cause or quit with just cause
    • In any event, a job seeker who does not report for work or voluntarily quits without just cause within 30 days may not be charged more than 30%
    • An agency cannot charge a job seeker a fee prior to finding her a job
    • It cannot split fees paid by a job seeker with an employer
    • Agencies cannot charge fees when an employee has not accepted employment

New Jersey's Consumer Fraud Laws weigh heavily in favor of the consumer.  They can entitle you up to three times your amount in damages and attorney's fees. If you believe you have been a victim of Consumer Fraud, contact The Law Offices of Alex Cirocco or call us immediately at 973-327-9995 for your free consultation.  

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