This guide covers resources that relate to the regulation of private law relationships between individual consumers and businesses.
When researching consumer law topics, a researcher must often investigate several different areas of law including bankruptcy, real estate, commercial law and banking law. Statutes at both the federal and state level must also be consulted. Additionally, regulations, decisions and orders from administrative agencies are sometimes needed. This guide will outline the major statutory guidance for current consumer laws and regulations, as well as secondary sources to supplement your research.
The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (Pub. L. 111-5) was passed in July 2010. Title X of this law amends a number of existing consumer laws. A complete legislative history of the act has been prepared by the Law Librarian's Society of DC. There is also a compiled legislative history available in the Taxation & Economic Reform in America Parts I & II, 1781-2010 library on HeinOnline. Other resources on Dodd-Frank are outlined here.
Selected consumer laws - many of which are being amended by the Dodd-Frank Act.
- Consumer Leasing Act of 1976, Pub. L. 94-240, codified at 15 U.S.C. 1667 et seq.
- Electronic Fund Transfer Act, Pub. L. 90-321, Title IX, codified at 15 U.S.C. 1693 et seq.
- Equal Credit Opportunity Act, Pub. L. 90-321, Title X, codified at 15 U.S.C. 1691 et seq.
- Fair Credit Reporting Act, Pub. L. 90-321, Title VI, codified at 15 U.S.C. 1681 et seq.
- Home Owners Protection Act of 1998, Pub. L. 105-216, codified at 12 U.S.C. 4901
- Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, Pub. L. 90-321, Title VIII, codified at 15 U.S.C. 1692 et seq.
- Federal Deposit Insurance Act, 64 Stat. 863, codified at 12 U.S.C. 1831t(c)-(f)
- Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, Pub. L. 106-102, codified at 15 U.S.C. 6801 et seq.
- Home Mortgage Disclosure Act of 1975, Pub. L. 94-200, codified at 12 U.S.C. 2801 et seq.
- Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act of 1974, Pub. L. 93-533, as codified at 12 U.S.C. 2601 et seq.
- Truth in Lending Act, Pub. L. 90-321, as codified at 15 U.S.C. 1601 et seq.
- Truth in Savings Act, Pub. L. 102-242, as codified at 12 U.S.C. 4301 et seq.
For state statutes, you can begin with a 50 state survey, such as the one on Consumer Protection on Lexis or on "Business Organizations Consumer Protecton" on Westlaw. It is best to then consult the applicable state's statute, which can be linked from our jurisdictional guides.
The administrative agencies which regulate the various aspects of consumer law, including, among others, the Federal Trade Commission, the Consumer Product Safety Commission and the Consumer Financial Protection Board publish their rules and regulations in the Code of Federal Regulations(CFR). Some selected sections include:
- Title 16 of the CFR details the commercial practices regulated by the Federal Trade Commission, including the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
- 17 CFR § 160 covers the privacy of consumer financial information under the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act.
Specialiized Case Law Reporters
- Antitrust and Trade Regulation Report (Bloomberg BNA)
This weekly reporter provides Federal, state, and international coverage of competition and deceptive trade practices law.
- Banking Daiy Report (Bloomberg BNA)
This daily reporter monitors "consumer protection" cases in the banking industry, and reports on new developments from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. This news is best accessed, by selecting Recent Topics and then Consumer Protection. Keyword searching is also avaialble.
- Product Safety and Liability Reporter (Bloomberg BNA)
Product Safety & Liability Reporter keeps you updated on all the significant developments and issues in product safety and liability. Current hot topics being monitored include CPSC reform, product imports and bus safety. Case notes provide links to key case documents.
Treatises and other publications
- Consumer Protection and the Law, Dee Pridgen, KF1609 .P75 Legal treatise analysing legal and procedural aspects of consumer protection law. Topics covered include advertising, sales practices, unfair and deceptive trade practices, consumer fraud, and product warranties.
- Consumer Protection in the States, available online. This is a 50-state survey of Unfair and Deceptive Acts and Practices (UDAP) statutes.
- Consumer Product Safety Guide, KF3945.A6 C65 1972 , also online. Three-volume CCH looseleaf containing full text coverage of consumer safety statutes and regulations with explanations with annotations. Coverage includes: official text of the Consumer Product Safety Act and the motor vehicle safety provisions of the Federal Transportation Code; full text of allied laws from the EPA and FDA; details of the Consumer Product Safety Commission and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's recall and enforcement powers; new and proposed regulations; established standards; court decisions; new developments; and semimonthly reports and summaries.
- Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act: Law, Explanation and Analysis, KF974 .D63 2010 , also online. This CCH resource provides a section-by-section analysis of this new legislation and discusses how the law will be implemented and its impact on the existing legislation. Chapter 10 focuses on consumer financial protection and the creation of the new Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection.
- NCLA Reports: Developments and Ideas for the Practice of Consumer Law, KF1606.3 .N35 Consumer Law looseleaf covering the latest consumer law issues and developments. Provides analysis and practice tips. Consists of six separate editions: Consumer Bankruptcy; Consumer Usury; Debt Collection & Repossession; Deceptive Practices; Federal Credit Laws; and Warranties & Odometers.
- Truth in Lending : Theory, History, and a Way Forward, KF1040 .D87 2010 This book focuses on the Truth in Lending Act, but includes a number of other statutes on federal disclosure which are designed to protect consumers.
- Unfair and Deceptive Acts and Practices, KF1609 .S34 2001 National Consumer Law Center manual providing a survey of the Unfair and Deceptive Acts and Practices law in all 50 states. Topical coverage includes: automobile leases and financing; automobile selling techniques; service contracts; credit card abuses; deceptive credit practices; loan brokers; insurance practices; new federal and state telemarketing Law; FTC Holder Rule; attorney fees; federal preemption of UDAP claims; cancellation and rescission; punitive damages; failure to disclose; unfairness standards; federal and state RICO statutes; State Attorney General enforcement; and UDAP pleadings.
- 2011 Review of Consumer Protection Law Developments, KF1609 .C667 This American Bar Association publication reviews new dvelopments in the area of deceptive and unfair practices, the Federal Trade Commission, self-regulation of advertising and state and international consumer protection law.
For additional treatises on Consumer Law, you can conduct a subject search of Gulliver, our online catalog, for the following subject headings:
- Consumer Credit -- Law and Legislation --United States
- Consumer Protection -- Law and Legislation -- United States
- Consumer Complaints -- United States
- Competition, Unfair -- United States
Academic & Law Journal Databases
Scholarly articles on consumer law and related topics can be found in many law reviews and academic journals. An overview article on federal consumer protection law is Edward M. Crane, et.al., "U.S. Consumer Protection Law: A Federalist Patchwork", 78 Def. Couns. J. 305 (2011). In addition, there is a legal journal devoted exclusively to consumer law:
- Westlaw and LexisNexis each include the full text for approximately 500 law reviews and journals. Coverage varies by journal, but in general they include articles starting from the late 1980s/early 1990s:
- HeinOnline includes approximately 500 law reviews and journals from the inception date of the publication to present (about a year behind)
- LegalTrac (formerly known as the Legal Resource Index) Tutorial
Index of approximately 1,300 journals; coverage begins in 1980. Also available through
- Legal Periodicals and Books Tutorial
Index of approximately 1,000 journals (with some full text); coverage begins in August 1981. Also available through
- Legal Periodicals and Books Retrospective Tutorial
Index of approximately 750 journals; coverage from 1928 to 1980
- PolicyFile Useful in searching for papers and reports on consumer-related topics published by think-tanks and academic institutions.
- PAIS International Index of publications from 1972 to the present in the fields of economics, political science, public policy, business, finance, law, international trade and relations, public administration, and government.
- Consumer Financial Protection Bureau - While this government agency is in its infancy, this web site provides a status report of its development, as well as reports and analysis as available. Their publication, Building the CFPB, reports on the evolution of the agency.
- Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) Federal commission charged with protecting the public from unreasonable risks of serious injury or death from more than 15,000 types of consumer products under the agency's jurisdiction. Their Office of Legislative Affairs section includes links to laws, Congressional testimony and hearings.
- FedinPrint - The Federal Reserve publishes reports, surveys and working papers on the economy and consumer issues. This searchable database provides access to these publications by the Board of Governors and the 12 Federal Reserve Banks. A subject search for "consumer" will provide access to hundreds of publications, which can be further refined by title, author or additional key words.
- Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Official website of the national government body tasked with enforcing federal laws prohibiting anticompetitive, deceptive, and unfair business practices. Commission opinions, adjudicative proceesings, advisory opinions and more are found here.
- State & Local Consumer Agencies - Links provided to consumer affairs agencies at the state and local level.
- Survey of Consumer Finance - This triennial survey conducted by the Federal Reserve provides a snapshot of consumer spending, wealth, assets, etc.
Other Web Resources
- Bloomberg Law - Extensive coverage of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, as well as consumer caw cases, statutes, regulations and news reports.
- Consumer Federation of America (CFA) This consumer advocacy group publishes an annual survey of consumer complaints, offers testimony before Congress and regularly publishes comments to proposed federal regulation. All of this material is available on their website.
- National Consumer Law Center (NCLC) A consumer protection organization that advocates for the rights of low-income consumers, providing support on issues of consumer fraud, debt collection, consumer finance, energy assistance programs, predatory lending, and sustainable home ownership programs. Current consumer legislation, regulations and model state laws are highlighted.
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