1. Maryland Consumer Protection Act 2017
2. CPA Principles
3. Exclusions
4. Related Maryland Laws
5. Consumer Laws
6. Homestead Laws
7. Deceptive Trade Practice Laws
8. Interest Rate Laws
9. Antitrust Laws
10. Identity Theft Laws
11. Lemon Laws
12. Important Definitions

The Maryland Consumer Protection Act, sometimes simply called the Consumer Protection Act or CPA, protects consumers through a set of established statewide principles governing unlawful business practices. The Consumer Protection Act is intended to investigate illegal consumer practices, offer assistance to the public when affected by illegal consumer practices, and prevent illegal business practices from happening in Maryland.

Maryland Consumer Protection Act 2017

The Consumer Protection Act is a law that protects consumers, tenants, and future tenants of residential property. The CPA centers its efforts on an extensive selection of goods and services, which include the "sale, lease, rental, loan, or bailment of any consumer goods, consumer realty, or consumer services ... ." Simply put, this law is a defensive tool that enables consumers to confront and dispute unfair business transactions.

The Consumer Protection Division of the Office of the Attorney General investigates claims and accusations of unethical and fraudulent trade practices. Investigating a company results from either the Division initiating based on its own reasons or when a consumer submits a complaint or claim. Other services provided include:

  • Negotiation or mediation
  • The use of a person of authority to settle a dispute, also called arbitration
  • Legal action, also called litigation

CPA Principles

The CPA protects consumers in the state of Maryland with a set of basic requirements for business transactions both statewide and through local subdivisions. The major concern is to protect consumers from dishonest, illegal business behavior in sales of real property, services, products, and credit. This law provides updated, adequate information that is easily accessible. The state's website also provides a number of resources and links geared to consumer protection.

Most businesses practice good business ethics and conduct business with the best interests of the customer in mind. However, the General Assembly of Maryland fears that the public is losing trust in vendors offering realty, goods, services, and credit. To deal with this concern, the General Assembly aims to examine illegal consumer practices, help resolve these issues, and put an end to unfair or deceptive trade practices from happening in Maryland. The public's health and well-being are at the core of the CPA's principles.

Exclusions

The CPA does not apply to the following excluded categories:

  • Companies that provide a public service, and are regulated by the Public Service Commission.
  • Certified service professionals, such as:
    • Accountants
    • Architects
    • Lawyers
    • Professional engineers
    • Veterinarian
    • Medical and dental practitioners
    • Clergymen
  • A radio or television broadcasting station, publisher, or printer who broadcasts or distributes advertisements that infringe on the CPA.
    • The broadcaster or distributor is not exempt, however, if they knew the advertisements violated the CPA, or are themselves directly engaging in unfair business practices.

Consumer Laws

These laws protect consumers from unlawful business practices. The main goals of consumer laws are to help tenants avoid fraud, define and enforce their rights against big corporations, define their rights as consumers, and provide financial protection in commercial transactions.

Homestead Laws

These laws protect homeowners from a bankruptcy proceeding and allow owners to set aside a portion of their equity which is unavailable to creditors.

Deceptive Trade Practice Laws

These laws prevent deceptive practices.

Interest Rate Laws

These laws cap interest rates and institute punishments for the illegal act of offering loans at unfair, high rates.

Antitrust Laws

These laws outlaw conspiracies, or collusion, monopolies, and other ways that hurt consumers and cause a decline in competition.

Identity Theft Laws

These laws make it illegal to use someone else's personal information to buy things or commit other crimes in their name.

Lemon Laws

These laws protect new car buyers from vehicles with problems that weren't disclosed at the time of purchase.

Important Definitions

There are several important terms you should know when dealing with the Maryland Consumer Protection Act.

  • "Advertisement":
    • An advertisement is any verbal or written communication that is publicly available through print or broadcast, and that affects a person's buying behavior.
  • "Consumer":
    • A consumer is an actual person who buys goods, services, realty, credit, or is a current or potential buyer or renter.
  • "Merchant":
    • A merchant is a person who directly or indirectly sells or offers consumer goods, services, realty, or credit.

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