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Some Consumer Protection Laws in Colorado

 Colo. Rev. Stat. §§ 6-1-101 through 6-1-115: What Is It?

Colorado Revised Statutes Title 6, Article 1 is commonly known as the Colorado Consumer Protection Act (“CCPA”). Based on the regulations provided by the CCPA, businesses are prohibited from engaging in deceptive trade practices during trade or commerce with the public. The CCPA also includes provisions that offer legal rights and remedies to injured consumers. According to the Act, the Attorney General and district attorneys can take legal action against a business that commits an unlawful practice. Additionally, the CCPA also provides a private right of action for individual consumers.

What is prohibited?

Under the CCPA, the use of deceptive trade practices in the course of business is considered to be unlawful. The CCPA provides a list of possible actions that would violate the law and among these, some unlawful practices include, but are not limited to:

  • Knowingly providing a false representation of a good or service’s source, sponsorship, or certification; and
  • Knowingly claiming that a good or service from one company is that of another; and
  • Disparaging another company’s goods or services; and
  • Making a deceptive representation about the geographic origin of a good or service; and
  • Providing advertisements for a good or service without meaning to sell them in the way that they were advertised; and
  • Offering false or misleading statements about the price of a good or service; and
  • Employing the use of bait and switch advertising when trying to sell a good or service; and
  • Operating or promoting a pyramid scheme.

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

Businesses in Colorado that engage in transactions with the public must follow the CCPA. If a consumer is the victim of an unlawful trade practice and has been injured as a result of such practice, they have the right to file a claim against the offending business. In Colorado, a consumer does not need to notify the business before filing a lawsuit but in order for their claim to be successful, the consumer should be able to show that: 1) the defendant engaged in a deceptive trade practice; 2) the unlawful practice was conducted during the course of business; 3) the unlawful practice had a significant impact on the public; 4) the consumer suffered an injury; and 5) the unlawful practice caused actual damages to the consumer.

What damages are consumers entitled to?

If a consumer prevails with their CCPA claim, they are entitled to receive an amount equal to the greater of the actual damages that they sustained, $500, or three times the amount of their actual damages sustained, if it is established by clear and convincing evidence that such person or business engaged in bad faith conduct. In addition, the consumer will also be able to recover costs and reasonable attorney’s fees.

What is the statute of limitations?

The statute of limitations period for CCPA claims is three years from the date that the alleged violation occurred or the date on which the last in a series of such acts or practices occurred or within three years after the consumer discovered or in the exercise of reasonable diligence should have discovered the occurrence of the false, misleading, or deceptive act or practice.

This three-year period may be extended for an additional year if the consumer can prove that they could not file a timely legal claim in court due to an action by the defendant that was calculated to induce the plaintiff to refrain from or postpone the start of the legal claim in court.

Are there exemptions?

The CCPA does not apply to acts or practices that are administered by federal or state laws, as well as acts or practices by publishers, broadcasters, or printers who are unaware of the nature of the material that they provide.  

Colo. Rev. Stat. §§ 5-16-101 through 5-16-135: What Is It?

Colorado Revised Statutes Title 5, Article 16 is called the Colorado Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“CFDCPA”) and it is a state law that aims to protect consumers from unfair debt collection tactics. The CFDCPA provides consumers with legal protection and places restrictions on the actions of debt collectors.

What is prohibited?

The CFDCPA prohibits debt collectors from engaging in a number of abusive and deceptive practices. For example, debt collectors do not have the right to harass or abuse an individual when attempting to collect a debt from them. Actions that are considered to be harassment include the use of violence or profane language when interacting with a consumer. Additionally, debt collectors are prohibited from using unfair practices during the collection process. Examples of unfair practices include the collection of an unauthorized fee or expense from a consumer or the solicitation of a postdated check or payment method with the goal of threatening or instituting criminal prosecution. Debt collectors also cannot use false or misleading representations during the collection of a debt such as by falsely representing the character or legal status of a debt or by threatening to take an action that they do not have the right to take.

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

The CFDCPA applies to collection agencies, solicitors, and debt collectors that are located within Colorado or that collect debts in Colorado. Like the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, Colorado’s state law does not apply to creditors that collect their own debts. A consumer who is a victim of an unlawful debt collection practice has the right to file a civil lawsuit against the offending debt collector. Class actions pursuant to the CFDCPA are also permissible.

What damages are consumers entitled to?

 If a consumer prevails, they can have the opportunity to collect actual damages, and they can collect additional damages per the court’s discretion as well as long as they do not exceed $1,000.00. The consumer may also be able to receive attorney’s fees and costs.

What is the statute of limitations?

The statute of limitations period for CFDCPA claims is one year. A private action pursuant to the CFDCPA must be filed in court within one year from the date on which the violation occurs.

The statute of limitations period for debt in Colorado:

In Colorado, the statute of limitations period for debt is six years for open accounts, unwritten contracts, and written contracts. This means that after a debt has been unpaid for more than six years, a creditor cannot sue the consumer in order to try to collect that debt. Different types of debt have different statute of limitations periods. In Colorado, the statute of limitations period for auto loan debt is four years, for credit card debt it is six years, for medical debt it is six years, and for mortgage debt it is six years. 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.