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If a consumer has a complaint about a business, an intake investigator will gather information about the problem. If the complaint involves a possible violation of a consumer protection law, the complaint is referred to a supervisor for review. However, in most instances, the problem does not involve a violation of a law but is a contract dispute between a consumer and a business, contractor or landlord. In such cases, intake investigators conduct informal mediations by phone or letter. The mediation process is often successful. If mediation is not successful and no law has been broken, the consumer will have to contact an attorney to take further action.
The two primary statutes enforced by the Consumer Protection Unit are the Consumer Fraud Act and the Deceptive Trade Practices Act. Consumer fraud occurs when a business makes a misrepresentation during the sale or lease of goods or services. Consumer fraud always involves a lie or deception. A breach of contract occurs when one party to an agreement fails to perform the promises made under the contract. However, failure to perform all of the contract promises does not amount to consumer fraud. Most consumer complaints involve a breach of contract but not consumer fraud.
A trade practice is deceptive if the business makes a misrepresentation about the quality or benefits of its goods or services. The law prohibits business from making false statements about their own goods or services or the goods and services offered by other businesses.