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Some Consumer Protection Laws in Arizona

 Ariz. Rev. Stat. Ann. §§ 44-1521 through 44-1534: What Is It?

Arizona Revised Statutes Title 44, Section 1521 through 1534 is commonly called the Arizona Consumer Fraud Act (“ACFA”) and it is a state law that prohibits businesses from using deceptive and unfair acts that would mislead or harm consumers. The ACFA contains penalties for businesses that violate the law as well as remedies for consumers that are victims of unlawful practices. Under the ACFA, the Attorney General can investigate and take legal action against businesses that engage in practices that are in violation of the law. Injured consumers can also file private actions and class action lawsuits.

What is prohibited?

 The ACFA is a law that contains broad regulations on the conduct that a business can or cannot engage in. The law broadly prohibits businesses from using deceptive or unfair practices, fraud, misrepresentation, and omission of material fact during the sale or advertisement of goods and services.

Who does the law apply to and how can consumers sue?

Arizona businesses that engage in trade or commerce with consumers must abide by the rules contained in the ACFA. If a consumer has been damaged as a result of a practice that is in violation of the ACFA, they have the right to take legal action against the business that committed the act. In order to establish a claim, the consumer should show: 1) that the defendant engaged in an unlawful practice under the ACFA; 2) that the defendant intended for others to rely on the unlawful practice; 3) that the consumer suffered damages due to the unlawful practice; and 4) the amount of damages they suffered. In Arizona, a consumer can file a lawsuit without providing prior notification to the defendant.

What damages are consumers entitled to?

A consumer with a prevailing ACFA suit is entitled to recover the amount of actual damages that they suffered, including consideration paid in the contract and out-of-pocket expenses.  A consumer can also recover punitive damages if they can show the defendant’s wanton or reckless conduct, spite or ill-will, or a reckless indifference to the interests of others.

What is the statute of limitations period?

In Arizona, consumer fraud claims have a statute of limitations period of one year. This means that for claims under the ACFA, a consumer must bring an action within one year after the date that the alleged violation accrues. Accrual occurs when the plaintiff discovered, or in the exercise of reasonable care and diligence could have discovered, the fraud.

 Are there exemptions?

The regulations of the ACFA do not apply to acts or practices by businesses like newspapers or broadcasting stations that disseminate advertisements without knowledge of the intent or purpose of the original advertiser. Additionally, the ACFA does not apply to advertisements that are subject to regulations and statutes provided by the Federal Trade Commission.

Ariz. Rev. Stat. Ann. §§ 44-1271 through 44-1282: What Is It?

Sections 1271 through 1282 of Title 44 of the Arizona Revised Statutes is known as the Arizona Telephone Solicitations Act (“ATSA”). This is an Arizona law that specifically governs the actions of businesses and solicitors that communicate with consumers through the telephone. The ATSA contains rules and prohibitions that telephone solicitors must abide by when making calls to consumers.

What is prohibited?

There are a number of telephone solicitation practices that are prohibited by the ATSA. For example, when contacting a consumer over the phone, a solicitor does not have the right to use any equipment or method that blocks the caller identification system on a consumer’s telephone. Additionally, a solicitor cannot make an outbound call to a number that is on the national Do Not Call Registry or to an individual who has already stated that they do not wish to be called on that number. Telephone solicitors also cannot make calls to a consumer’s residential phone using an artificial or prerecorded message unless the consumer has consented beforehand or the call is for emergency purposes.

Furthermore, at the beginning of a telephone solicitation call, the seller must first provide the following information to the consumer: 1) the address of where the solicitor is making the call from and the address of the business’s primary location; 2) the legal name of the solicitor’s business; 3) the solicitor’s own legal name; and 4) the purpose of the call. Additionally, during the call and in any written correspondence, the solicitor must clearly inform the consumer about any charges (for the use of any premiums or in connection with the sale of a product), any material restrictions or exception, the time period of when a premium will be delivered, and the consumer’s right to cancel.

Who does the law apply to and how can consumers sue?

Any telephone solicitor that engages in solicitations with consumers must abide by the ATSA. If a consumer is the victim of an unlawful solicitation practice, they can take legal action to collect damages and obtain relief.

What damages are consumers entitled to?

Because an unlawful telephone solicitation is also an unlawful practice as defined by Section 1522 of the ACFA, a consumer who is injured by a violation of the ATSA can collect damages as provided by the ACFA.

Additionally, if a consumer has purchased goods from an unregistered solicitor, then pursuant to the ATSA itself, they have the right to rescind the sale and recover the full amount of purchase money that they paid to the seller. The consumer may also be able to collect any financial damages that were caused by the unregistered seller, as well as reasonable attorney’s fees and costs; pursuant to the ATSA itself.

The statute of limitations period for debt in Arizona:

In Arizona, the statute of limitations on debt (open accounts, unwritten contracts, and written contracts) is six years. This means that after a debt has remained unpaid for this six-year time period, a creditor generally will no longer have the right to sue a consumer in order to try to collect payment for the outstanding debt. Different types of debt have different statute of limitations periods. In Arizona, the statute of limitations period for auto loan debt is four years, it is three years for credit card debt, it is six years for medical debt, and it is six years for mortgage debt. Once the statute of limitations period expires, a creditor cannot successfully sue a consumer for nonpayment of the debt. If a consumer promises to make a payment on an alleged debt, or makes even a small payment, it could potentially restart the clock on the statute of limitations.

Some of the places that a consumer can look to for help or answers to questions:

The laws and statutes discussed above can change. So, in the state that a consumer resides in, a consumer protection agency, the Office of the Attorney General, and/or a consumer protection attorney who is licensed in a consumer’s respective state can help a consumer in getting help, up to date information and interpretations, and/or with determining the answers to their questions in regard to the aforementioned laws. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau can assist as well.