There is nothing more frustrating than realizing you’ve been scammed. Maybe you bought a faulty product, maybe you financed a bogus cause; whatever happened, your money is now with a scammer and you’re feeling the sting.
The good news is that there are consumer protections in place designed to keep you safe. Texas is equipped with the Deceptive Trade Practices Act (DTPA), a law designed to punish scammers and repay the people who were scammed. If you think you’ve been had, don’t wait to push the issue.
Was I just scammed?
The first step to fighting back is realizing that something shady happened. The DTPA is broad, it effectively states that "false, misleading, or deceptive acts or practices in the conduct of any trade or commerce are hereby declared unlawful." These are a few examples of how that plays out in the real world:
Door-to-door contractor – Most contractors are hard workers just trying to make a living. There are some that will receive some – or all – of their payment early in a job then disappear. This is especially common after a storm.
Product wasn’t as advertised – Buying from small websites or independent sellers on internet boards comes with nice discounts, but sometimes what you get is shoddier or even completely different than what was advertised.
Unexpected charges – Cashiers, internet retailers and pay-by-phone services are just a few of the entities that see your credit card info. They all have the potential to record your information and sell it to scammers. Pay attention to your card history to catch it early and figure out where the theft began.
The reality is that few people report consumer fraud, assuming the scammer is either long gone or impossible to find. There is always hope, though. Don’t be afraid to hold the fraudulent party responsible.
What you can do to fight back
It is natural that you would want justice after finding yourself the victim of practices covered by the DTPA. Working with an experienced attorney is the best way you can advocate for yourself in this situation. They will investigate the matter and do everything in their power to hold the scammer accountable.
Speaking directly with the business or individual is a good place to start. Most businesses will try to save face by remedying the problem right away. If that falls short, moving up the hierarchy and speaking to a manager or owner may solve the problem.
Should that fail too, it may be time to file a formal complaint with the Federal Trade Commission or Better Business Bureau. If the fraudulent party is found guilty of intentionally deceiving you, you may receive up to triple the amount you were scammed out of as damages.
You work hard to earn your pay; don’t let it fall into the hands of scammers. The law is on your side and DTPA is there to back you up, all you have to do is pursue it.