Fraud against consumers is not just limited to the automotive industry. For instance, a common form of fraud today is with the door-to-door sale of solar panels and solar energy, the tactics for which mirror those used with the door-to-door home insulation sales in the 1980s. Fraud is still fraud. And with the Baby Boomer generation turning 65 at the rate of 10,000 people per day, financial abuse against the elderly is only on the rise. Fortunately, California has strong consumer protection laws in place to deter and to penalize financial abuse. Conn Law, PC is here to enforce those laws and protect your rights.

Door-to-Door Sales

California has one of the strongest “Three Day Cooling-Off Rules” in the United States. California’s Home Solicitation Sales Act covers almost all consumer transactions, which take place in the buyers home, or away from the sellers normal business premises, that involve $25 or more. The statute applies to deals made at swap meets, in airplanes, or even some deals made over the phone. (There are some exceptions to the Act’s coverage. It does not apply to attorneys, real estate brokers, doctors, and some other services).

The statute gives the consumer three business days to cancel covered contracts.

The Home Solicitation Sales Act has other robust requirements. For example:

The entire agreement must be in the same language as the language used in the sales presentation;
The seller must orally tell the buyer that they have a three day right to cancel the contract and that any cancellation must be in writing;
The right to cancel has to be set forth in the contract in bold face type; and
The seller must provide the buyer with a completed “Notice of Cancellation” form that the consumer can send in to cancel the contract.

The consumer’s right to cancel the contract is extended until the merchant complies with these requirement. That means, if the merchant fails to provide any of the above notices, then the consumer can cancel at any point, and the merchant may not be entitled to any compensation.

This law has been on the books since 1971. But even today, many companies still do not comply. California residents whose home solicitation contracts do not set forth the three-day right to cancel may be entitled to cancel their contracts and receive a refund for any money paid.

California Translation Act

California is the most diverse state in the country. Millions of Californians either do not speak English at all or do not speak it well. They certainly do not use English are part of their everyday life. This is why California Civil Code Section 1632, known as the “California Translation Act” (“CTA”) exists. In many situations, it protects non-English language speaking consumers that negotiate a transaction in that language from being tricked into signing an English-language contract with different terms.

In amending the CTA in 2011, the California Legislature found that 15.2 million Californians spoke a language other than English at home. 3.8 million of those either do not speak English well or do not speak English at all. 3.5 million of those 3.8 million speak at least one of the following five languages: Spanish, Chinese, Tagalog, Vietnamese, or Korean. These numbers have only gone up since 2011.

In order to protect California’s sizeable non-English speaking population, the CTA requires that if certain contracts are negotiated in Spanish, Chinese, Tagalog, Vietnamese, or Korean, then the written contract must be written in the language that it was negotiated in. At the very least, a translation must be provided before it is signed. Covered contracts include:

  • Retail installment sales contracts;

  • Automotive lease contracts;

  • Consumer loans and extensions of credit;

  • Housing leases and rental agreements; and

  • Foreclosure consulting contracts.

  • If any of theses types of contracts are negotiated in Spanish, Chinese, Tagalog, Vietnamese, or Korean, then the consumer has to be given an in-kind language translation before they sign the contract.

    Civil Code Section 1632 also applies to any subsequent documents related to a transaction that changes the rights and obligations of the parties. This could include refinancing documents, or post-repossession notices.
    There is one important exception. If the non-English speaker consumer uses his or her own interpreter, to negotiate the transaction. But the interpreter cannot be employed by the selling business and must be not be a minor.

    If the CTA is not complied with and no translation is provided, then the consumer may have the right to cancel the original contract.

    Please contact us or fill out an online contact form here if you have any more questions or give us a call.

    Financial Elder Abuse

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