What is Consumer protection?

Consumer protection is the practice of safeguarding buyers of goods and services, and the public, against unfair practices in the marketplace. Consumer protection measures are often established by law. Such laws are intended to prevent businesses from engaging in fraud or specified unfair practices in order to gain an advantage over competitors or to mislead consumers. They may also provide additional protection for the general public which may be impacted by a product (or its production) even when they are not the direct purchaser or consumer of that product. For example, government regulations may require businesses to disclose detailed information about their products—particularly in areas where public health or safety is an issue, such as with food or automobiles.

Consumer protection is linked to the idea of consumer rights and to the formation of consumer organizations, which help consumers make better choices in the marketplace and pursue complaints against businesses. Entities that promote consumer protection include government organizations (such as the Federal Trade Commission in United States), self-regulating business organizations (such as the Better Business Bureaus in the US, Canada, England, etc.), and non-governmental organizations that advocate for consumer protection laws and help to ensure their enforcement (such as consumer protection agencies and watchdog groups).

A consumer is defined as someone who acquires goods or services for direct use or ownership rather than for resale or use in production and manufacturing. Consumer interests can also serve consumers, consistent with economic efficiency, but this topic is treated in competition law. Consumer protection can also be asserted via non-government organizations and individuals as consumer activism.