Consumer Protection in Michigan: Current Methods and Some Proposals for Reform

During the past decade, a great deal of effort has been expended at all levels of government in the United States to enhance the prosperity of the poor and underprivileged elements of society. Much legislation has been passed-especially at the federal level–but it has been incomplete in that its main thrust has been simply to increase the income levels of poor people without a corresponding effort to ensure that they receive their money’s worth as consumers. As a result, the long-standing evil of fraud in the market place has not been significantly reduced, but has contributed to the serious economic and social problems that confront contemporary society. It has been estimated, for example, that, in purely monetary terms, Michigan consumers lose as much as one hundred million dollars annually to fraudulent merchants. This loss is particularly devastating since the victims of the unethical and deceptive practices are very often persons with low incomes who cannot easily bear financial loss. Consumer fraud thus tends to reinforce the vicious circle of poverty with its attendant social ills.