Consumer Protection Litigation and Chapter 93A Claims
The Massachusetts Consumer Protection Act is enacted as Chapter 93A of the Massachusetts General Laws. This is often shortened to just “Chapter 93A.”
Chapter 93A prohibits business from engaging in practices that are unfair or deceptive with respect to consumers. It applies to almost any transaction in trade or commerce. This includes sales and leases, debt collection, many contracts, foreclosure, landlord-tenant law, and insurance claims. Chapter 93A usually does not apply to employment issues, which are covered by separate laws.
Massachusetts governmental agencies have issued regulations about what type of business behavior violates Chapter 93A. The major types regulations, and the section of the Code of Massachusetts Regulations in which they are located, are listed below.
- General consumer- protection regulations, including false advertising, deceptive pricing, and landlord-tenant issue: 940 C.M.R. 3.00
- Debt collection (Attorney General), 940 C.M.R. 7.00
- Debt collection (Division of Banks), 209 C.M.R. 18.00
- Mortgage brokers and lenders, 940 C.M.R. 8.00
- Motor vehicle sales: 940 C.M.R. 5.00
There are numerous other areas of consumer-protection regulation, as well.
If a business violates Chapter 93A, a consumer or their attorney must first send what is called a “demand letter.” This letter must be sent 30 days before filing a lawsuit, and should give the basis for the claim, including the unfair conduct that was committed, as well as the damage caused to the consumer. If the business does not make a reasonable settlement offer, a judge is permitted to (but is not required to) award double or triple damages.