New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act - an Overview
The history of the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act is one of constant expansion for consumer protection. Enacted in 1960, the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act originally vested only the Attorney General with enforcement power against commercial establishments. Eleven years later an amendment authorized private actions by injured parties.
New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act, N.J.S.A. 56:8-2 sets forth the operative language:
Any person who suffers any ascertainable loss of moneys or property, real or personal, as a result of the use or employment by another person of any method, act or practice declared unlawful under this act … may bring an action … In any action under this section the court shall, in addition to any other appropriate legal or equitable relief, award threefold the damages sustained by any person in interest.
Then, in 1975, the Legislature further amended the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act to include unlawful practices in the sale or advertisement of real estate. Throughout its history, the Act has protected consumers from deception and fraud, even when the merchant acts in good faith.
An offense arises under the Act when the merchant makes an affirmative act or mispresentation; intentionally fails to disclose a material fact, or a violates an administrative regulation. One who makes an affirmative misrepresentation is liable even in the absence of knowledge of the falsity of the misrepresentation, negligence, or the intent to deceive. For liability to attach to an omission or failure to disclose, however, the plaintiff must show that the defendant acted with knowledge and or intent to deceive.
It should be noted that the Consumer Fraud Act extends its protection to corporations as consumers. Accordingly, businesses who are victimized are entitled to seek damages and or relief under the law.
New Jersey Consumer Protection
Under the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act, “the act, use or employment by any person of any unconscionable commercial practice, deception or fraud, false pretense, false promise or misrepresentation, or the knowing concealment, suppression or omission of any material fact with the intent that others rely upon such concealment, suppression or omission, in connection with the sale or advertisement of any merchandise or real estate…is declared to be an unlawful practice…”
The NJ Consumer Fraud Act covers many areas, including but not limited to:
- The sale or lease of a new or used motor vehicle.
- Repair of automobiles.
- Repair of watercraft.
- Servicing and repair of home appliances.
- Ordering and delivery of household furniture.
- Home improvements.
- Health clubs/gyms.
- Mail and catalog orders.
- Refund policies at retail stores.
- Funeral home practices.
If your rights are violated under the Consumer Fraud Act, you may be entitled to an award of treble damages, attorney's fees and costs.
NJ Consumer Protection Leasing Act
Consumer Protection Leasing Act ("CPLA")... Effective June 21, 1995. This important legislation was enacted in response to numerous complaints to the Division of Consumer Affairs involving abuses in the leasing of automobiles.
The NJ Consumer Protection Leasing Act provides many consumer protections including:
- The right to have 24 hours to review the lease before signing it.
- Mandatory disclosure of any trade in allowance.
- Mandatory disclosure of the capitalized cost of the vehicle if it is in excess of the manufacturer's suggested retail price.
- Specifically provides that a violation of the CPLA is a violation of the Consumer Fraud Act.
If you think you may have a consumer fraud claim, or are involved in any other legal dispute, it is important to make your selection of an attorney very carefully. Be sure you get the representation you need and deserve. Call our office today 732-449-2884 or click here to contact us immediately.