Do I have a consumer protection claim?
Montana’s Consumer Protection Act (CPA) protects consumers from unfair methods of competition and unfair or deceptive acts or practices in the conduct of any trade or commerce. The purpose of the Consumer Protection Act is to protect consumers from being taken advantage of by businesses. However, the definition of unfair and deceptive acts is not entirely clear. The terms “unfair” and “deceptive” are not defined by statute. The Montana Supreme Court has held that “an unfair act or practice is one which offends established public policy and which is either immoral, unethical, oppressive, unscrupulous or substantially injurious to consumers." Rohrer v. Knudson, 2009 MT 35, ¶ 31. As to what constitutes a "deceptive" act, the Montana Supreme Court has stated that a deceptive act claim does not require a showing of intent to deceive, nor knowledge a representation is untrue, but does require that a representation was untrue when it was made. WLW Realty Partners, LLC v. Cont'l Partners VIII, LLC, 2015 MT 312, ¶ 33.
Federal statutes also protect consumers, including the Fair Debt Collection Act, Federal Trade Commission Act, the Fair Credit Reporting Act, and the Consumer Product Safety Act.
Common law provides additional claims for consumers to vindicate their rights. For example, in a situation where improper debt collection practices result in false information on a consumer’s credit report, the individual might be able to assert a defamation claim. Also, contract law and the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing may entitle a consumer to recover for inadequate services or products.
I am a consumer victim. What should I do to protect my rights?
If you are the victim of unfair business/commercial activities, start by writing down the date and description of significant events (the who, what, when, where, how, and why). Make sure to include verbal statements since a lot of wrongful conduct occurs over the phone (as opposed to letters and other written correspondence). Make sure to identify the names of individuals and entities along with contact information. Having this information written down will protect against details being forgotten, expedite evaluation and investigation, and ultimately strengthen your claim.
Also, compile and maintain a copy of all applicable documentation, including any contracts, notices, emails, letters, pictures, or other documentation.
Why should I contact an attorney?
There are many consumer protection laws. Evaluating consumer rights can be confusing for a person not trained and experienced in the law. If you believe you have been wronged by a business, whether a seller, bank, mortgage servicer, debt collector, car dealer, home construction contractor, or other commercial entity, contact Garden City Law to understand your rights, hold violators accountable, and protect other Montana consumers from being harmed by the same conduct. Consultations are usually free of charge, and attorney fees and may be recovered in addition to the recovery you are entitled to.
If you are the victim unfair or deceptive business/commercial activities, you want an attorney who will aggressively represent your interests in a professional manner and get the results you deserve. You want Garden City Law. Call André Gurr at Garden City Law to discuss your rights. Consultations are confidential and free of charge. As an experienced and knowledgeable civil litigation attorney in Missoula, André provides legal services throughout Western Montana, including Missoula, Mineral, Ravalli, Lake, Sanders, Flathead, Lewis and Clark, and Beaverhead County.
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