Fight Back Against Consumer Fraud in Texas

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The old adage “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is” remains largely in effect as scams and identity theft operations continue to thrive. The cost in terms of financial, physical, and emotional stress can be enormous to fraud victims, and there can also be extensive and exhausting investigations required to help victims recover their rights. While there is a law called the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act designed to thwart poor business practices, the fact remains that, there are always some who will try to swindle unsuspecting victims any way they can.

What Kinds of Scams Exist?

The notion of a scam or unfair business practice is the idea that a consumer is lured or brought into an environment or agrees to a contract based on information which is untrue, misleading, or deceptive. This can happen in several ways:

  • False Advertising. Promising that a product has certain characteristics when it in fact does not, is a clear example of this illegal behavior. For example, if a retail store promises that its brand of fancy expensive sneakers can make you able to outrun a speeding locomotive, that would be an outright outrageous and yet objective statement. If instead, however, that same store advertises their shoes as something subjective such as “great value” or “uniquely designed” that may not rise to the level of a claim of false advertising.
  • Bait and Switch/ “Low Stock” Items. This occurs when a customer goes into the store to ostensibly purchase a below-market price product or some sort of exceptional deal only to discover that that basement-bargain item is either not in stock or had extremely limited stock. Instead, the customer is then offered a higher priced “replacement.” Depending on how the advertising was presented and whether the company was clear about the nature and number of the low stock items will determine whether these actions rise to the level of deceptive trade practices.
  • Deceptive “Sales.” When an item is advertised as a “sale” price with a regular retail price that is never actually used, this is considered deceptive. Retailers cannot advertise a sale price if they do not use the retail price as advertised, thus preventing them from artificially “marking up” the retail value just to discount it.
  • Odometer Tampering. This may occur if a vehicle is sold with any changes to the mileage. If, for example, the odometer is required to be replaced, a seller is required to disclose that information as fully as possible.
  • Lemon Laws. If a vehicle is sold to a consumer, that turns out to be unreasonably problematic within the first 12,000 miles or the first year (whichever happens first), a consumer is entitled to pursue at their option either a cash refund or a vehicle replacement. The problem must be substantial or “life-threatening”, there must have been at least four attempts at repairs, and it must have been out of service for at least 30 days with no loaner available within the first 24,000 miles.

Ways to Spot Consumer Fraud

A few tips and techniques may signal fraud:

  1. If an offer has an extremely limited time, scope, or duration. Anytime someone needs to pressure you into making a decision on the spot, whether on the phone or on the sales floor, the chances are that something isn’t right.
  2. If the sales person makes it personal. If he or she suddenly wants to become your best friend, it may be because they truly want that and have your best interests at heart. But then again it may not be. Be wary.
  3. If making the deal the sales person is offering is guaranteed to make you very rich, or result in you getting a piece of a very convincing business model that he or she can provide you with tons of testimonials about, it may just be a pyramid scheme.

The bottom line is that many folks are duped by swindlers, hustlers, and con artists. But legitimate businesses can also defraud consumers. If you or someone you love was injured by fraud, contact us at Crowe Arnold & Majors, LLP at (214) 231-0544 and Toll Free (800) 738-4046.

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