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AARP supports new Consumer Protection legislation

Legislation that adds unfair business practices to the state’s consumer protection laws is on its way to the governor’s desk.

House Bill 91, sponsored by Rep. David Bentz, D-Newark, and Sen. Trey Paradee, D-Dover, amends Delaware’s Consumer Fraud Act to explicitly add unfair practices to the list of prohibited practices. AARP offered full support of the bill.

The bill passed with bipartisan support. The bill passed the House 39 to 0 with two absences. In the Senate, four Republicans voted no.

An amendment added language that tracked more closely with the Federal Trade Commission’s description of unfair practices.

The Consumer Fraud Act, passed in 1965, already bans deceptive business practices, but Delaware is one ofo nly six states tha tdo not explicitly ban unfair or unconscionable practices. Passing the legislation was one of Attorney General Kathy Jennings’ top legislative priorities for 2021, a release stated.

According to the Federal Trade Commission, Delaware ranks second per capita in consumer fraud complaints.

“Some issues are complicated; this one is not,” stated Jennings.“A second-grader could tell you that unfair behavior is wrong, so it’s no surprise that most adults assume it’s illegal. In truth, we’re one of a small handful of states where it’s not explicitly illegal for business to use unfair practices like high-pressure sales tactics or price gouging. That’s not company we want to keep. Thanks to Rep. Bentz and Sen. Paradee, it won’t be anymore.”

Federal law has prohibited unfair business practices since 1938, and the laws of 44 states and the District of Columbia prohibit unfair or unconscionable practices. Because of Delaware’s weaker Consumer Fraud Act, consumers – and businesses acting as consumers – are vulnerable to unethical or injurious actions that they would be shielded from in other states, sponsors of the bill stated.

 

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