Articles Posted in New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act

I just updated some content on bait and switch advertising.  Click here to review.

I litigated numerous cases this year on the bait and switch advertising. It was a case that I fought for over 2 years which was thrown out the trial court, for nap the Appellate Division and applied to the Supreme Court for review. Unfortunately, I was not successful in this case however, it was, in my opinion an issue which needed to the address. It dealt with dealership’s and the manufacturer advertising course which were not available for sale as they were already sold. My legal theory was that you cannot advertise a vehicle for sale if it was already sold. If he were advertising the vehicle which was already sold by very definition was bait and switch for false advertising and deceptive business practice.

In my opinion, the court did not address the key, relevant issues which were the defendant’s conduct. The court, at the trial level, held that the loss is hypothetical. The court at the appellate level held that the plaintiff did not establish a measurable loss as the plaintiff needed to prove that there was an offer to sell the car for a price over the advertised or offered price.

Short Answer about consumer fraud and odometer fraud

What is odometer fraud?      Selling or transferring a car knowing that the odometer is wrong or has been altered

Is odometer fraud consumer fraud?      Selling or transferring a car knowing that the odometer is wrong or has been altered or JUST selling a vehicle with an incorrect odometer reading.

In certain ways odometer fraud is a very simple concept. They are both state and federal laws dealing with odometer fraud. The basic concept is that if a seller of an automobile, or a transferor of an automobile, or where that the odometers and correct or has been tampered with in any way, there is an obligation to disclose same on the odometer disclosure statement. If you disclose same on the odometer disclosure statement that the mileage is improper were not accurately reflected on the vehicle would not have any liability either under the federal or state odometer law.
The federal law on odometer fraud requires the proving of knowledge of the mileage. However, the liability under state law does not require the same level of proof. Obviously, if you prove that an individual sold the vehicle or transferred the vehicle knowing the mileage was incorrect there is a claim for fraud. The basic defense to this claim is that there was disclosure. Naturally fraud claims carry the penalty punitive damages. However, it gets dicey when you are dealing with transferring or selling used motor vehicles where the seller claims ignorance or were unaware of the odometer discrepancy.

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National Insurance Crime Bureau or NICB, appears to be an organization, a not-for-profit organization, to assist various entities including law enforcement and insurance companies in preventing various types of insurance fraud. It also appears that they had created, maintain and utilize a database which obtains information from insurance companies among other sources. It appears through the website that there is a service and/or database which were created through National Insurance Brime Bureau that appears to store information on vehicles, stored through their vehicle identification numbers.

It also appears that there is something called VINCheck which is a service various entities can use to check the history of automobiles. One would assume that the reliability and the usefulness of this database depend upon the source of the information.

The NICB was formed in 1992 from a merger between the National Automobile Theft Bureau (NATB) and the Insurance Crime Prevention Institute (ICPI), both of which were not-for-profit organizations. The NATB — which managed vehicle theft investigations and developed vehicle theft databases for use by the insurance industry — dates to the early 20th century, while the ICPI investigated insurance fraud for approximately 20 years before joining with the NATB to form the present National Insurance Crime Bureau.

NICB’s VINCheck is a free service provided to the public to assist in determining if a vehicle has been reported as stolen, but not recovered, or has been reported as a salvage vehicle by cooperating NICB member insurance companies. To perform a search, a vehicle identification number (VIN) is required. A maximum of five searches can be conducted within a 24-hour period per IP address.

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Buying a Car is Awful Because… Tell me…

I have represented over a thousand people and have purchased many cars myself. Almost every experience related to me is the same. It sucked. The reasons are different BUT the results are the same. It sucked!! Take a look! Here too about the tricks.

I would describe it as follows:

The laws in the State of New Jersey on repossession are based on two things: there is both common law and statutory law addressing the relationship between the parties. Statutory law for repossession of the automobile or collateral is based on the Uniform Commercial Code. The Uniform Commercial Code specifically states when a vehicle or a piece of collateral may be repossessed.

The primary event to which the code references is a ‘default.’ Obviously, a default would refer to the written agreement between the parties to determine when there is in fact a default. This means that if the payments are due on the first of the month and the payments are not made, this would be ordinarily deemed a default of the agreement between the parties.
The legal significance of the default is addressed by the Uniform Commercial Code and permits the finance company or the party not in default to take appropriate action. The actions permitted to be taken by the finance company are also contained in the agreement between the parties. Usually, the agreement will make reference to self-help repossession or replevin. These terms and conditions are also addressed by the Uniform Commercial Code.

Although I do a significant amount of auto fraud litigation, the concept does not change with regard to the sale of any goods such as houses or any other consumer goods. Again, if you know the purchaser of the good would make a different decision and you fail to disclose and you know this, this would be deemed fraud.

This is particularly applicable to dealers in auto fraud litigation. In many, many cases which I litigate, it is alleged that the dealer knew that a vehicle had been damaged in transit or otherwise, whether the vehicle be new or used. You would be surprised of the number of cases where new cars were sold with transit damage. Clearly, if a new car has any damage, in my opinion, it must be disclosed since it is material to the transaction.

Once a vehicle has damage, I would consider this a used car rather than a new car. Although the law determines that a used car is one which had been titled, based on the use, I would submit that the vehicle would now be a used vehicle. In addition, on used vehicles, dealers are required to inspect them for safety under the law and especially the certified used vehicles undergo an extensive process. When the dealership sells one of its cars and they know they were damaged and fail to disclose them to the purchasing public, they commit an act of either fraud or consumer fraud.

This is a list of questions that a jury might have to answer at the end of a trial:

1. Do you find by a preponderance of the evidence that the Defendant committed any unconscionable commercial practice, deception, fraud, false pretense, false promise or misrepresentation as I have defined in connection with the transaction involving the sale of the subject vehicle?

YES _______ NO _______ VOTE ________

The New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act is to be Watered Down, significantly.

New Jersey has one of the strongest Consumer Fraud Acts in the United States.

There is pending legislation to change the Consumer Fraud Act and make it easier to avoid civil penalties for fraud.

Amy Handlin and John McKeon are sponsoring an anti-consumer bill that would change the business landscape in New Jersey.

A key provision of the new New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act would exempt out of state transactions. This means the following: if someone in New Jersey commits consumer fraud upon a non-resident (living in NY, PA or CT) there are no consequences.

“a. apply only to transactions that take place in the State”

Car Salesmen and Dealerships to be Protected with Proposed Changes in Consumer Fraud Act.

Amy Handlin and Jack McKeon have sponsored and introduced ANTI-CONSUMER legislation to reduce consumer rights and protect car dealerships.

The changes in the Consumer Fraud Act would exempt or limit liability against businesses that are already regulated, such as car dealerships. It would also limit liability for consumers who consummate out-of-state transactions. This arguably contradicts other legislation that has been introduced to increase liability for those committing consumer fraud.

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