Two new consumer protection laws you should know

Two new consumer protection laws you should know »Play Video
Gov. Chris Gregoire has signed two new consumer protection bills into law, and it just happens to come on National Consumer Protection Week.

It may not be on your calendar, but it's my favorite week of the year, and the perfect time for the governor to sign these bills.
One deals with used cars, the other with scammers who try to take advantage of homeowners headed into foreclosure.

State Attorney General Rob McKenna says the new lemon law is good news offers added protection for buyers of used cars.

"Under the old law, the lemon law only applied if you bought your car from a new car dealer.

"And so people going to used car lots were being offered cars that looked new weren't being told those cars had already been returned to the manufacturer, then wholesaled out. Now, used car dealer is required to disclose a car has been returned as a lemon just as a new car dealer would," McKenna said.

The new law is especially timely with the slumping economy boosting the popularity of used cars.

"The price has actually gone up for used cars because of the heavy demand for them. And yet people weren't being protected with information they ought to have since, obviously if you buy it and find out it's a lemon afterward, your resale value tanks," said McKenna. "So you might be willing to buy a car that's been returned as a lemon, but you ought to know so that the price is appropriate."

And in the case of a lemon, the dealer should be able to tell you about the car's specific issue or problem.

Now, let's talk about the second law the governor signed. This one deals with scammers targeting homeowners facing foreclosure.

"In particular, people who lose their homes in property tax foreclosure sales are besieged with offers from folks who say, 'Hey, I'll get the leftover money, you know, after the tax debt is settled. I'll get that money for you from the county.'

"And they'll charge 50 to 70 percent for that service when, in fact, all they need to do is fill out a one-page form, take it down to the county, have it notorized by the county and you get the money. So people are getting ripped off, and the county treasurers who see this were very frustrated, asked us to help," McKenna said.

The law caps the charge for such service at 5 percent, McKenna says, effectively outlawing ripoff cases that were so frequently seen.