Selected Michigan Consumer StatutesMichigan Consumer Protection Act (MCL § 445.901, et seq)
The Michigan Consumer Protection Act (“MCPA”) is a comprehensive consumer protection statute that prohibits over thirty types of conduct as unfair or deceptive practices when committed in trade or commerce. The act defines “trade or commerce” broadly to include conduct involving the provision of goods or services for “personal, family or household” purposes. The MCPA gives consumers several remedies, including statutory damages of $250 per violation together with reasonable attorneys’ fees. Any “person who suffers loss” as a result of a violation of the MCPA may bring a private cause of action.
While the MCPA was intended to provide broad relief for consumers, the Michigan Supreme Court has limited its application with respect to many types of businesses in the case of Smith v Globe Life Ins Co, 460 Mich 446, 597 NW2d 28 (1999). Under Smith, if the general conduct of the defendant is specifically authorized by statute, the business is exempt from MCPA liability, even if the manner in which it conducted that business would violate the act.
Home Solicitation Sales Act (MCL § 445.111, et seq)
Michigan’s Home Solicitation Sales Act (“HSSA”) regulates sales of products or services where the sale is solicited and agreed upon at the buyer’s residence. This can include personal, telephone, and written solicitations. The act requires sellers to provide buyers with certain cancellation rights and written notice of these rights. It also requires that agreements or offers to purchase be in writing and prohibits certain practices defined as unfair or deceptive. In addition, it regulates the content and manner of telephone solicitations and prohibits calls to anyone on the national do-not-call registry. The HSSA includes causes of action for misrepresentations, failure to disclose information, and other violations by solicitors. For certain violations, the HSSA allows for $250 statutory damages, together with reasonable attorney fees.
Credit Services Protection Act, (MCL § 445.1821, et seq),
The Michigan Credit Service Protection Act (“CSPA”) protects consumers by prohibiting certain businesses that offer to prevent foreclosures or modify mortgages from collecting an up-front fee before providing services. The CSPA makes it illegal for most companies and individuals to receive a fee before completing any of the following services: (1) offering advice or assistance for avoiding foreclosure, (2) negotiating with creditors to defer or lower payments, (3) offering advice or taking steps to improve a consumer’s credit records, history, or rating, and (4) obtaining credit or a loan for a consumer, or offering advice or assistance in obtaining credit or a loan for a consumer.
A major reason for the enactment of the CSPA was the widespread occurrence of “mortgage rescue” and “loan modification” scams as a result of the foreclosure crisis. This involves companies or individuals taking advantage of desperate homeowners by guaranteeing that they will stop foreclosure or get a loan modification, charging a high up-front fee, and then failing to perform the promised services. The CSPA provides a private right of action to recover actual damages of an amount not less than the amount paid by the buyer, plus reasonable attorney fees and costs. The court may also award punitive damages it considers proper.
Other Michigan Consumer Statutes:
Collection Practices Act (MCL § 445.252, et seq)
Facsimile Machines (MCL § 445.1771, et seq)
Franchise Investment Law (MCL § 445.1501, et seq)
Home Improvement Finance Act (MCL § 445.1101, et seq)
Landlord and Tenant Relationship Act (MCL § 554.601, et seq)
Lemon Law (New Motor Vehicle Warranties) (MCL § 257.1401, et seq)
Michigan Telecommunications Act (MCL § 484.2101, et seq)
Motor Vehicle Service and Repair Act (MCL § 257.1301, et seq)
Retail Installment Sales Act (MCL § 445.851, et seq)
Truth in Renting Act (MCL § 554.631, et seq)
Unsolicited Commercial E-Mail Protection Act (MCL § 445.2501, et seq)
[This list is not intended to be an exhaustive list of Michigan consumer statutes.]
Selected Federal Consumer Statutes
Telephone Consumer Protection Act (47 § USC 227)
The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”) prohibits certain types of telemarketing calls and telemarketing activity, and includes the rules establishing and governing the national Do-Not-Call list. The TCPA prohibits any telephone call to a residential telephone line using an artificial or prerecorded message, unless the call falls under an exemption. It also prohibits telephone solicitations to persons who are registered with the national do-not-call registry. Under the TCPA, telemarketers are required to maintain their own internal do-not-call list and are prohibited from calling individuals who have indicated they do not want to be called.
A person or entity may bring a private cause of action for a violation of the TCPA. The TCPA allows recovery of actual damages or $500 in statutory damages for each violation, whichever is greater. If the court finds that the defendant acted willfully or knowingly in violating the TCPA, the court can increase the amount of statutory damages up to $1,500 for each violation. The TCPA is an effective way for people to fight back against illegal telemarketing.
Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (15 USC § 1692)
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”) is a federal consumer protection statute which prohibits abusive debt collection practices. The act applies to consumer debts, which are defined as any obligation or alleged obligation of a consumer to pay money arising from a transaction which is primarily for personal, family, or household purposes. The FDCPA does not cover collection tactics employed by original creditors; it only governs the actions of debt collectors (e.g. collection agencies).
The FDCPA contains several requirements and prohibitions in regard to debt collection practices. For example, if a consumer requests in writing that the debt collector cease further communications, the debt collector must stop all communications except to notify the consumer that efforts to collect are being terminated or escalated (i.e., litigation). A debt collector must provide validation of the debt if requested by the consumer in writing within 30 days of the initial communication (or 30 days from first notice of validation right). False, misleading, or deceptive collection practices are prohibited as well as harassment, oppression, and abuse (e.g. violent or obscene language, incessant calls, etc.). The FDCPA provides a range of damages for violations, including statutory damages up to $1,000 and attorney fees.
Fair Credit Reporting Act (15 USC § 1681, et seq)
The Fair Credit Reporting Act (“FCRA”) is a federal law that governs credit reporting agencies and furnishers of credit information. The act is designed to protect the integrity and privacy of consumers’ credit information. The FCRA requires credit reporting agencies and furnishers of credit information to ensure that your information is fair and accurate, and kept private. The act allows you to access and correct inaccuracies in your credit report and provides remedies if a credit reporting agency or information furnisher violates your rights.
Under the FCRA, credit reporting agencies must investigate disputed credit information, correct or delete any inaccurate information within 30 days of receiving notice, refrain from using old credit information (usually more than 7-10 years old), and limit disclosure of credit information to third parties. A supplier or furnisher of credit information must not report any information that it knows or should know is inaccurate, promptly update and correct any inaccurate information that it previously supplied to a credit reporting agency, inform you about any negative information it reports within 30 days, and maintain reasonable procedures to respond to identify theft notices by a credit reporting agency. Users of credit information, which is anyone who uses your credit information for employment, credit, or insurance purposes, also have certain duties under the act. The FCRA provides several remedies for violations including statutory damages between $100 and $1,000 and attorney fees and costs.
Other Federal Consumer Statutes:
Anti-Spam Act (CAN-SPAM Act) (15 USC § 7701, et seq)
Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (15 USC § 6501, et seq)
Consumer Leasing Act (15 USC § 1667, et seq)
Consumer Product Safety Act (15 USC §2051, et seq)
Credit Repair Organizations Act (15 USC § 1679, et seq)
Electronic Fund Transfer Act (15 USC § 1693, et seq)
Equal Credit Opportunity Act (15 USC § 1691, et seq)
Fair Packaging and Labeling Act (15 USC § 1451, et seq)
Freedom of Information Act (5 USC § 552)
Magnuson Moss Warranty Act (15 USC § 2301, et seq)
Telemarketing Consumer Fraud and Abuse Prevention Act (15 USC § 1601, et seq)
Truth in Lending Act (15 USC § 1601, et seq)
[This is not intended to be an exhaustive list of federal consumer statutes.]