The federal government has enacted numerous statutes, rules, and regulations designed to protect consumers from unscrupulous lenders and other financial entities. These laws govern nearly every financial transaction a consumer might encounter.
Lending institutions, creditors, collection agencies, and other businesses that are regulated by these laws are all required to follow them, but that doesn’t mean that all of them do. As is often the case, what you don’t know can hurt you, and many companies take advantage of consumers’ ignorance of the laws that were enacted to protect them.
What follows is a very brief summary of some of these laws, what they do, and who has to follow them.
The Consumer Leasing Act of 1976
This law requires finance companies to disclose the cost and terms of automobile and other consumer leases.
The Electronic Fund Transfer Act (EFTA)
Enacted in 1978, the EFTA governs the manner in which consumers and financial institutions utilize electronic fund transfer services, such at ATMs, POS (point-of-sale) terminals, and preauthorized transfers directly from one bank account to another. This law comes into effect whenever you withdraw funds from an ATM machine, use your credit card, or pay bills online.
The Equal Credit Opportunity Act
Congress enacted this law in 1974 to prohibit discrimination in credit transactions on the basis of sex, age, race, religion, color, national origin, and other grounds. It requires creditors to grant credit to qualified individuals without requiring signature by spouses, and to inform unsuccessful applicants in writing why they were denied credit.
Over the next few weeks, I will be posting more laws and how they are designed to protect you.