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What Are the Consumer Protection Laws in Georgia?

Posted in Defective Products on January 18, 2019

When you purchase a product or service in Georgia, you expect to receive what you pay for. While many businesses operate ethically, some companies engage in criminal practices. Georgia consumer protection laws help unsuspecting purchasers stay safe from defective products in the face of these unethical activities.

Georgia Lemon Laws

The term “lemon” refers to a new automobile that has numerous issues and requires multiple expensive repairs. Georgia enacted the lemon laws in order to protect consumers who are purchasing new vehicles, allowing for peace of mind when visiting a car dealership. The lemon laws protect consumers’ vehicle purchases for the first two years or 12,000 miles, whichever comes first. If the vehicle ends up being a lemon, the manufacturer must refund or replace the vehicle.

The following vehicle defects qualify for lemon law protections:

  • Any serious auto defect that impacts the safety of the vehicle
  • Any serious defect that significantly impairs the vehicle’s value, safety, or use
  • Any defect that violates the manufacturer warranty

In addition to replacement and repairs, the manufacturer may need to pay for all collateral charges and incidental costs.

Georgia Telemarketing Fraud Laws

Calls from telemarketers can be a nuisance for many Georgia residences. In most cases, these individuals are harmless. However, some people use telemarketing as a way to obtain money or personal information from the consumer. Usually, telemarketing involves making false or misleading promises in order to obtain this information.

Federal law requires telemarketers to comply with the Federal Trade Commission and the Federal Communication Commission, along with applicable Georgia laws. The Georgia Code prohibits telemarketers from engaging in the following activities:

  • Calling a person at any time between 8am and 9pm without consent
  • Using a trick, scheme, or device to defraud an individual or entity
  • Engaging in activities or businesses that would qualify as fraud or deceit

Georgia punishes fraudulent telemarketers through the imposition of fines and prison sentences. The telemarketer may need to pay restitution to the victims. The severity of the punishment depends on how much money is involved in the fraud and the nefariousness of the crime.

Georgia Pyramid Scheme Laws

The terms “pyramid scheme” and “Ponzi scheme” each describe specific types of investment fraud. Pyramid schemes occur when investors enlist other investors who enlist additional investors to make money. Usually, the lower level investors must market a product or service to other people, generating revenue for higher-ups.

Ponzi schemes occur when organizers ask investors to make an investment to receive a high rate of return – usually, this rate of return is unusually high. Similar to pyramid schemes, Ponzi scheme investors make money from later investors. The involved individuals never see the high rate of return, but the people in charge pretend that the investments are generating revenue on their own.

Ponzi schemes and pyramid schemes are felonies and misdemeanors under Georgia law. Those found to be in violation of these laws can face:

  • Significant prison time
  • High fines
  • Restitution
  • Probation
  • Revocation of business licenses
  • Freezing of assets
  • Required community service

Georgia Deceptive Trade Practice Laws

When businesses mislead consumers into purchasing a lower quality product or service, they break Georgia’s deceptive trade practice laws. Georgia’s Fair Business Practices Act prohibits businesses from engaging in any of the following activities:

  • Bait-and-switch tactics
  • Misrepresentation of a used product as new
  • Making false statements about another product or company
  • Making false statements about prices
  • Pretending that another company made goods and services
  • Misrepresentation of the product’s origin
  • Not stocking enough product to meet expected demand
  • Making false statements about the quality of the products

Companies found to be in violation of Georgia’s deceptive trade practice laws could face a misdemeanor charge and civil penalties. They could receive a significant fine or serve a prison sentence.

If you believe that you are a victim of any business activity that violates Georgia’s consumer protection laws, speak to a consumer protection attorney as soon as possible.