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Consumer Law -- Top 10 Things to Know

Date: 
04/20/2018
Author: 
MLRI
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1) M.G.L. c. 93A is the Massachusetts consumer protection law to fight against unfair or deceptive acts or practices in trade or commerce. The Attorney General's office has promulgated regulations that give specific examples and explanations of unfair acts and practices.

2) Everyone can get free copies of their credit reports once a year. Consumers can dispute errors and eliminate outdated information online. 

3) A $125,000 homestead is automatic in Massachusetts.  More equity can be protected by filing a Declaration of Homestead.

4) Creditors may try to take a debtor's assets or income.  Exemptions allow consumers to protect some assets and income from creditors.  If they can protect all of their income and assets they are called execution proof.  

5) Sometimes a consumer can stop debt collection harassment using a letter.

6) There are many ways to help a consumer avoid or fight a utility termination.  

7) Sometimes student loans can be discharged in bankruptcy or cancelled.  Usually this is a result of fraud by a trade school or debtor disability.

8) Consumers have significant rights when creditors want to repossess their car. Automobile fraud can be raised as a defense to repossession

9) Homeowners who struggle to pay their mortgage can get help considering their options.  Consumers victimized by predatory loans may have legal remedies to get out of the loan.  

10) Low income consumers are vulnerable to high cost lending practices - payday loans, rent- to-own (really an expensive loan), pawnshops and auto title pawn, and tax refund loans. There are legal remedies available to challenge them.

Extra point: Prioritizing paying off debt or considering bankruptcy are ways a debtor can begin to rebuild their credit and move past a life of debt.

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Massachusetts Law Reform Institute, 2018

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