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Policy Fundamentals For Consumer Rights and Protections

People should be treated fairly, with their rights respected, as consumers in the marketplace and as individuals in their community. Everyone should have the chance to live a dignified life grounded in independence and choice.

Close up of a woman using a laptop with a credit card in her hand

Prostock-studio/Alamy Stock Photo

Consumer protections serve as the foundation of an economy reliant on consumer spending. Straightforward business practices, marketing materials and contracts empower consumers to understand both the benefits and risks of products and services so they can make informed choices about what to buy.

In addition, individuals have the right to be free from abuse and to live free from discrimination and crime. They should be protected from neglect, discrimination and financial exploitation. Older adults can be especially vulnerable and may need extra safeguards.

  • Policymakers should secure consumer protections in the marketplace. Consumer protection policies should ensure fair competition and protect people from unfair, deceptive and abusive acts and practices. To achieve these goals, policies should prioritize safety, promote fair play and practice, foster transparency, protect the right to restitution for harm or injury, safeguard privacy and security, and keep pace with technological changes.

  • All consumers should have access to affordable, reliable basic and necessary products and services. These include heating and cooling, telephone and digital communications, financial products and services, and transportation.

  • Policymakers should enact, strengthen and enforce civil rights statutes. Laws should eliminate practices that specifically target, or have a disproportionately negative effect on, historically disadvantaged groups. Protections should include safeguards against age discrimination, which is a serious challenge for many adults, and all other forms of bias.

  • Policymakers should enact protections for vulnerable populations, such as older adults with mental or physical impairments. People in these groups may be at particular risk for elder abuse. Such abuse may be physical or emotional and may involve financial exploitation. Incapacitated older adults have a right to have their wishes carried out.

  • Policymakers should prioritize individual dignity, autonomy and choice. Everyone has the right to be treated with respect, regardless of age, personal background, health or economic status. Honoring dignity includes respecting and enabling personal and financial choices.