Potential federal and state consumer protection laws in Arizona on the horizon

Consumer protection is an important issue to numerous Arizona legislators. Laws currently on the books govern disclosure, financial terms and conditions, and marketing practices across a variety of industries. Businesses must be careful to meet all legal requirements or risk facing a lawsuit.

Two upcoming potential laws and regulations highlight the ways in which state and federal laws attempt to govern unfair business practices. Recently, the solar industry has received scrutiny in Arizona and Texas regarding the financial terms of their contracts with homeowners. At the federal level, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau will soon make public a first draft of regulations regarding short-term "payday" loans.

In December, several members of Congress wrote to the Federal Trade Commission, asking the agency to look into the marketing practices of several solar panel companies in the two states. The lawmakers claimed that some companies were not providing clear terms regarding 20-year leases on solar panels.

In Arizona, a bill under consideration would require certain financial disclosures on solar panel contracts with homeowners. SB 1465 would mandate that solar companies disclose to consumers the total cost of a 20-year lease, include who will receive associated tax subsidies, warranty terms, and the terms and credit requirements of a future home buyer. In addition, if the bill becomes law a customer would be able to cancel within 5 business days.

Feds to regulate short-term loans

Arizona already caps the amount of interest creditors can charge consumers. Currently, short-term loan creditors can charge no more than 36 percent interest on loans. However, many credit lenders have been able to modify loan terms to meet the requirements of state law while still drawing criticisms from regulators and consumer advocates. Now, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau will get into the fray, as it will soon release a first draft of legislation that would govern certain short-term loans. It is expected that regulations will require lenders to look at whether borrowers can repay short-term loans after two weeks.

Consumer protection lawsuits in Arizona

These two bills provide a brief example of the ways in which state and federal laws may regulate consumer financial contracts. Regulations govern various industries in the state, from selling a home to selling insurance. A bill regulating solar leasing contracts is not atypical of consumer protection laws in the state, although whether the bill will pass remains unclear.

For consumers who believe they have suffered from fraud, deceptive marketing, or other consumer issues, there are legal options available. The attorneys at Cook & Price, PLC, have extensive experience representing consumers in legal action against companies who have violated state and federal regulations regarding by providing unfair terms or deceptive marketing to consumers.