If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. According to recently published Federal Trade Commission data, consumers reported losing more than $5.8 billion to fraud in 2021, an increase of more than 70% from the year before. More than $2.3 billion of consumer losses reported in 2020 were related to imposter scams, up from $1.2 billion in 2018, and around $392 million of those losses were related to online purchasing, up from $246 million in 2018.

These are alarming numbers and continue to rise every year. This is why protecting yourself from consumer fraud is something you need to be vigilant of every day. Consumer fraud is commonly defined as deceptive business practices that cause consumers to suffer financial or other losses. Fraud against consumers is often related to false promises or inaccurate claims made to consumers, as well as practices that directly cheat consumers out of their money.

Consumer Protection Law

Consumer protection laws are designed to shield customers against dishonest corporate tactics, subpar goods, and potentially harmful products and services. Consumer protection laws play an important role in a reliable market economy, helping to keep sellers honest with no threat of unpleasant surprises. As modern economies develop, laws are slowly evolving to protect consumers from large corporations and practices like adhesion contracts which common law fraud do not address. 

A Few Common Consumer Protection Laws

  • Fair Credit Reporting Act - Safeguards the data gathered by consumer reporting organizations, including credit bureaus, health information providers, and tenant screening services.
  • Dodd-Frank Act - Is a piece of legislation that the U.S. Congress passed in reaction to actions taken by the banking industry that sparked the 2007–2008 financial crisis. It aimed to make the American financial system more secure for taxpayers and consumers.
  • The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act - Aimed at eradicating unfair, dishonest, and abusive debt collection techniques this act went into effect in March of 1978. Additionally, it defends respectable debt collectors against unfair competition and promotes continued governmental action to safeguard customers from unethical debt collection practices.
  • Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) - Was passed in order to address telemarketing calls and particular telemarketing techniques. 

Healthcare Fraud

Healthcare fraud is not a victimless crime. Everybody is impacted by healthcare fraud, which costs the economy tens of billions of dollars annually. When a product makes a promise to prevent, treat, or cure a disease or another health condition but has not been shown to be safe and effective for those applications, it is considered to be a health fraud scam. Scams involving health care cost money and might cause delays in receiving accurate diagnoses and treatments. Additionally, they are capable of harm, even death. Healthcare fraud and abuse instances include:

  • False claims for goods or services that were never delivered.
  • Using another person's health insurance information to obtain goods or services.
  • Faking signatures or medical records to support services or goods which are not what they are advertised to be.
  • Removing services from a group in order to illegally raise the cost of medical care.
  • Misrepresenting the place where goods or services are offered.
  • Provide medical assistance without a license.
  • Submitting duplicate claim forms.

If you believe you have been the victim of healthcare fraud, The Cochran Firm attorneys are available to discuss your legal options. Healthcare wrongdoings against consumers appear in many schemes. Healthcare providers may encroach on the rights of consumers through insurance scams, deceptive practices, charging for services never provided, unconscionable pricing, and defective or flawed products. 

Medical Malpractice In Healthcare Fraud

Medical malpractice is sometimes a broad category of several types of actions. In some situations, healthcare fraud is considered to be medical malpractice. Usually, these crimes involve the actions of medical professionals using medical procedures to fill their pockets. Thousands of medical procedures each year are performed by various healthcare providers that are unnecessary and often not related to the issue the patient has. These unneeded procedures are often performed because insurance companies, Medicare, Medicaid, and even private insurance businesses pay the healthcare facility for longer visits and extra care for patients who need treatment that helps prevent surgical complications. 

In order to support your case, The Cochran Firm has the resources to find and retain the best medical specialists in any area of medicine. Many of our locations have in-house nurses and doctors who support our study of complex medical concerns and provide screening in challenging cases. Let our knowledgeable staff examine your case for medical malpractice right away. For the injured patients we have defended, our skilled lawyers have obtained hundreds of millions of dollars. Our outcomes in situations involving medical malpractice speak for themselves.

You should contact our medical malpractice lawyers right away if a medical professional's negligence caused you to sustain a severe physical injury. For a free, no-obligation consultation, please get in touch with The Cochran Firm immediately.

Dangerous Drugs And Devices

Drug producers and pharmaceutical firms have a duty to create safe medications and to carry out all required testing to establish a medication's suitability for human consumption. For consumers to be able to make an educated choice regarding the drug's use, these corporations must list and warn of any potential negative effects on the box.

In addition, medical device manufacturers are required to carry out all required testing to assess the safety of a device and to publish any relevant disclaimers. If they don't, you or a loved one risk significant harm or even death.

At The Cochran Firm, we understand how a dangerous drug or defective device can harm you and impact the lives of you and your family. A dangerous drug or device can cause physical and emotional pain, unnecessary medical costs, missed work, and even death.

Vehicle Fraud

Automobile purchases are significant investments that consumers should not make hastily. Considerable research is necessary before even setting foot on a dealership lot, while inspecting and test-driving new cars, and most importantly, before signing a sales contract. Regarding the condition of used cars as well as the terms of the sale, due diligence must be performed in great detail. Any car transaction calls for a healthy dose of doubt about the dealer's dependability. Financing all or a portion of the purchase price, when necessary, brings up a whole new set of concerns about consumer rights. Consumer protection laws address many of these risks, but consumers must also make efforts to protect themselves by being informed.

Types Of Auto Dealer Fraud

Compared to dangerous or defective automobiles, as well as vehicles that do not satisfy the implied warranties of merchantability or fitness, auto dealer fraud raises different legal difficulties. Automobiles that are not suitable for public sale are covered by federal, state, and local goods liability statutes, as well as local lemon laws. Laws that forbid unfair or dishonest business practices apply to fraud committed by auto dealers. 

One common source of auto dealer fraud is when the auto dealer fails to disclose the used status of a vehicle. The auto dealer may even misrepresent information about the vehicle, such as the model year, performance abilities, or known problems. Deceptive trade practices like bait and switch result in consumers looking for a deal and then being coerced into accepting another product for more money. Other price misrepresentations include misstating facts regarding manufacturer discounts, stating that the purchase price covers more than it really does, or stating that an offered price is book level or low when it is not.

Auto dealer fraud can also occur when dealers fail to disclose known defects of the vehicle, misrepresent warranties included with the purchase, or charge undisclosed fees. Dealers may also tamper with odometers in order to misrepresent the actual number of miles that a vehicle for sale has or hide the fact that a vehicle had been previously returned due to a state lemon law.

Another common reason for auto dealer fraud claims is due to yo-yo financing. This situation arises when a consumer purchases a vehicle in the belief that the sale is final. However, if he or she takes the vehicle home, the dealer contacts the consumer to say that the financing has fallen through, and the consumer will need to return the vehicle unless he or she agrees to less favorable refinancing terms.

Consumers can take precautions to protect themselves by rejecting pushy sales techniques, test-driving a car before purchasing it, and insisting on a thorough visual inspection of a car. When buying a used car from a private seller, they should seek to have a mechanic evaluate it and request a repair history for the vehicle.

Identity Theft

Identity theft is a serious offense. It happens when someone commits fraud or another crime using your personal information—such as your name, Social Security number, or credit card number—without your consent. According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), up to 9 million Americans have their identities stolen annually.

How To Avoid Identity Theft

Identity theft can be less disastrous if you are vigilant about protecting your privacy. Here are some ways to safeguard your personal information.

  1. Secure your personal records - Make sure your personal data is securely stored, especially if you live with others or hire outside help. This can be done by shredding sensitive information, locking personal items in a secure location, depositing outgoing mail at the post office or collection box, not in an unsecured mailbox, and being sure to collect your incoming mail in a timely manner, lastly don't leave credit, debit, or ATM card receipts behind and never throw them away in public. 
  2. Protect your personal information online - Don't share private information online or on social media, such as your birth date. Never enter sensitive information into a website unless it is secure. Look for a security icon like an unbroken padlock and a URL that begins with "https" rather than just "http" to determine whether a website is secure.
  3. Use passwords and change them regularly - Use complex passwords that are difficult to guess or decipher for all of your online accounts. Useless passwords like "123456789," "qwerty," your mother's maiden name, the names of your kids, spouse, or pets, or other personal information should be avoided.
  4. Be aware of Tele-Theft - Never give out personal information over the phone unless it is absolutely necessary, and never do so until you have called the person first. A good rule of thumb to remember is that if something seems too good to be true, it probably is. 

Defective Products

Each year, thousands of consumers suffer injuries as a result of dangerous or otherwise flawed products. You might be covered by a warranty or, at the absolute least, have the choice to return the item for a refund or exchange if you buy a product that simply does not work as claimed but causes no actual harm.

You have the right to anticipate that a product you purchase will be safe for the purpose for which it was designed. The most fundamental is the right to use the object safely. It is the responsibility of large corporations and product manufacturers to create and produce safe items and to include all relevant disclaimers and warnings. When they fall short of this duty, and a dangerous or faulty product causes you harm, you should see an expert defective product liability attorney.

Simply defined, when a product's bad design or manufacturing causes you harm, you have the right to justice and financial compensation. In this trying time, you deserve a product liability attorney who will fight for you. The Cochran Firm can help you pursue the justice and compensation you are entitled to.

Data Breaches And Consumer Rights

Customers frequently entrust businesses with their names, addresses, financial account numbers, health information, and other particulars that are typically considered "private." Few rules and enforcement measures exist in our legal system to safeguard consumers from data breaches that can expose them to identity theft and other criminal practices. A basic right to privacy has likewise received relatively scant acknowledgment from the courts. Most laws governing the privacy of customers' personal information can be divided into two groups: those that forbid unauthorized access to computer systems and those that protect particular kinds of information.

Data Breach

The term “data breach” refers to any release of private, confidential, sensitive, or proprietary information into an unsecured or untrusted environment. The information could be released onto another computer or computer network or directly onto the internet, where anyone could access it. The release could be a deliberate or accidental act by someone with responsibility for the security of the information or the result of an unauthorized intrusion into a secured computer network. 

Example Of A Data Breach

Per CNN: Business, in 2018, international hotel giant Marriott discovered that there was unauthorized access to the Starwood reservation system, a company that Marriott gained control over in 2016. The Starwood hotel line included properties such as the St. Regis, Westin, Sheraton, and W Hotels. For 327 million people, their information, including names, phone numbers, email addresses, date of birth, and reservation information, was leaked. This data breach is the biggest corporate data breach in history, only second to the breach involving Yahoo in 2017

Like any substantial problem in the world, there's no silver bullet to fix it. But everyone can take steps in the right direction to help. Security professionals cannot solve the issue without support from the public. Healthcare professionals cannot keep public health at acceptable levels if most of the population does not practice hygiene. The only way to help with data breaches is to do it together and to think about online security as our digital well-being.

At The Cochran Firm, we help by holding companies accountable for the mishandling of consumers’ information; together, we can encourage these companies to take consumer privacy more seriously. There are legal remedies you can pursue if consumer fraud has caused you financial loss. The Cochran Firm's consumer fraud attorneys have the tools and knowledge necessary to successfully defend your case.

Contact us today to discuss a possible lawsuit and receive the help you need to recover earnings to which you may be entitled.

List Of Agencies That Fight Against Fraud

  1. Consumer Protection - Is a manual for consumers that explains different sorts of scams, state or local resources for preventing fraud, and the steps to take in the case that a qualifying consumer issue arises.
  2. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) - The FTC seeks to protect consumers by preventing unfair, dishonest, and fraudulent business practices in the marketplace and by educating them on how to stop, recognize, and avoid them. 
  3. OVC Elder Fraud Hotline - Is staffed with experts who can aid senior citizens, or someone assisting them, with making a complaint and, on an individual basis, connecting with suppliers of necessary services.
  4. National Center for Disaster Fraud Response - Is a national coordinating organization housed in the Criminal Division of the Department of Justice that works to enhance criminal activity related to disasters, both natural and man-made, as well as other emergencies, like the coronavirus, through better detection, prevention, investigation, and prosecution. 
  5. Internet Crime Complaint Center - is a partnership between the National White Collar Crime Center and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) with the aim of giving the public a trustworthy and practical reporting mechanism to give information to the Federal Bureau of Investigation about alleged criminal activity that was facilitated by the internet as well as to build strong partnerships with law enforcement and business partners.

Why The Cochran Firm Is For You

If you believe you have been the victim of business or consumer fraud, The Cochran Firm attorneys are available to discuss your legal options. Corporate wrongdoing against consumers appears in many schemes. Companies may encroach on the rights of consumers through financing and insurance scams, deceptive advertising practices, charging for services never provided, unconscionable pricing, defective or flawed products, and price-fixing agreements. Dishonest corporations also can overcharge each customer only a small amount, hindering serious complaints but adding up to large amounts of undeserved money.

The attorneys at The Cochran Firm are among the nation’s most successful and tenacious attorneys. When navigating through the legal process, you deserve to have an experienced attorney by your side. The Cochran Firm attorneys know how to fight for you. 

Here at The Cochran Firm, our experienced attorneys are ready to help you or someone you love pursues a consumer fraud claim. Our attorneys work closely with each of our clients using pooled resources and their access to legal expertise to ensure the most effective legal representation available is provided. 

You need the help of an experienced consumer fraud attorney who has proven successful results in other similar cases to guide you through the process and help you to receive the monetary damages you are entitled to under the law. At The Cochran Firm, we have the offices, the experience, the results, and the resources to aid clients throughout the United States. Please contact the consumer fraud attorneys at The Cochran Firm today for your free, no-obligation initial consultation today.