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Consumer Protection Laws and Dangerous Products

Consumers suffer injuries while using defective products or eating dangerous foods all the time. These cases fall under "product liability." Consumers are at the mercy of product manufacturers and retailers. Consumer protection agencies are critically important to American consumers.

Most manufacturers' products are safe. When a product poses a safety risk, manufacturers must warn consumers. You should be able to trust that these companies have your health and welfare at heart. Sadly, this isn't always the case. It often comes down to a matter of money. Will it cost the company more money to fix a product than it would to settle lawsuits?

This may seem like a pessimistic approach to product safety. But there's good news. Agencies such as the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Consumer Product Safety Commission are there to keep you and your family safe.

Here, we'll discuss some of the more helpful consumer protection agencies. We'll also explain how to protect yourself and your loved ones from dangerous products. Finally, this article will describe what you can do if you're hurt using a defective product.

How a Network of Laws Keeps Consumers Safe

Most consumers do their homework before making large purchases. But, when it comes to everyday products, most of us buy whatever is available. This makes us vulnerable to dangerous products. Thankfully, several laws, regulations, and agencies are looking out for us.

At the same time, many companies try to take advantage of consumers. For this reason, government and non-profit agencies have come together to protect us from scams and unfair business practices.

Laws that keep us safe from unsafe products and scams include the following:

  • The Consumer Products Safety Act is the most significant consumer protection law. It makes selling, distributing, or importing products that don't follow safety regulations illegal. Violating safety regulations can result in civil and criminal penalties for the company.
  • The Consumer Protection Act covers all consumer goods. It provides a remedy for consumers harmed by unwieldy companies. It also offers recourse to consumers hurt by dangerous or defective products.
  • The National Consumer Law Center offers a detailed consumer rights and protection agency list. This site explains the laws that protect consumers. It also provides resources for people hurt by dangerous products or harmed by unfair business practices.
  • The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) sets rules and guidelines for specific companies. Pharmaceutical companies, for instance, must submit new drugs to the FDA for approval before they can market them for sale. The same is true for food and beverage manufacturers.

Of course, this list is not exhaustive. Many laws and programs protect consumers in the United States. Some of these offer consumer education. Others help consumers identify deceptive acts and false advertising.

For example, if you believe a company is engaging in fraudulent business practices, you can seek help from these agencies. The same is true if you are the victim of misrepresentation.

What Product Safety Agencies Do

Product safety agencies perform various functions depending on the agency's purpose and responsibilities.

Investigating Consumer Complaints

One important responsibility is investigating consumer complaints. When consumers suffer harm using a dangerous or defective product, they can file a complaint with one of these agencies. They'll investigate the claim and notify the necessary parties.

Issuing Recalls

These agencies also issue recalls when they determine a product is dangerous. Some agencies, such as the Bureau of Consumer Protection, post information about these recalls to alert consumers to new dangers.

One of the critical product safety agencies is the Consumer Product Safety Commission. The CPSC helps test potentially dangerous products before they are available. They also spread safety information to the public.

Types of Product Safety Agencies

There's no way to list all the state and federal consumer protection agencies here. But there are a few that you should know. The list below describes the consumer protection laws and regulations these agencies issue and the services they provide. (See Legal Basis for Liability in Product Cases to learn how the law protects consumers from dangerous products.)

State Safety Investigation Resources

You may be wondering what to do if you need to report an unsafe product. First, check if your state's attorney general has posted information about the dangerous product.

Every state has a consumer protection division. Find the office for your state. You will find links to state and city consumer protection offices when you visit a state page.

Once you find your local consumer protection office's contact information, call, email, or complete any online form. Most agencies let you register a complaint online. You can also do so through email.

Once you report the unsafe condition, the agency will conduct an investigation. Remember that you can only expect a full investigation if the hazardous condition is significant. The agency will likely do a cursory review of your claim and determine if it needs further action based on your report and similar reports from other consumers.

Another thing you should do, regardless of whether you report the issue, is contact a products liability attorney. They are familiar with the complaint process and can help you take legal action if necessary.

Government Agencies Also Protect Consumers from Unfair Practices

Consumer protection agencies' primary concern is protecting people from unsafe products. At the same time, the federal government also wants to protect us from unfair business practices and fraud. For example, the risk of identity theft has risen with so many people shopping online. There are also many telemarketing scams aimed at deceiving and taking advantage of consumers.

One primary agency protecting us from such threats is the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). This agency helps people with consumer credit discrepancies. It also ensures that all lenders and financial companies follow the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. The agency monitors debt collectors attempting to recover money owed on credit cards and other loans.

The CFPB also helps victims of consumer fraud. If a financial institution defrauds a person, the CFPB helps the consumer.

Learn More About Consumer Protection Laws from an Attorney

Consumer protection laws keep you safe. Sadly, some dangerous products escape their attention. You have rights if a defective product hurts you or your loved one. First, seek medical attention immediately. Then, you should contact a consumer protection attorney.

There are federal laws and federal agencies governing the safety of consumer goods. Your product liability attorney will help you seek justice under these laws. Most law firms offer new clients a free case evaluation. This lets you learn if your case has merit and what to do moving forward.

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