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Consumer Laws

Credit Freezes

An amendment to Tenn. Code Ann. § 47-18-2108 establishes that a consumer reporting agency shall not charge a Tennessee consumer to place, temporarily lift, or permanently remove a security freeze.

Tennessee Price-Gouging Act of 2002 (Tenn. Code Ann.  § 47-18-5101 et seq.)

Tennessee’s price gouging laws make it unlawful for individuals and businesses to charge unreasonable prices for essential goods and services, including gasoline, in direct response to a disaster regardless of whether the emergency occurred in Tennessee or elsewhere. The price gouging law makes it unlawful to charge a price that is grossly in excess of the price charged prior to the emergency.

Price gouging complaints can be filed here: https://www.tn.gov/commerce/consumer/file-a-complaint.html

Tennessee Stolen Valor Act

An amendment to Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-16-301 makes it a criminal offense to impersonate a member or veteran of uniformed service for purpose of obtaining money, services, property, or tangible benefits.

2018 Tennessee Laws Pub. Ch. 914

New License for ID Theft Victims

An amendment to Tenn. Code Ann.  § 55-50-331 allows a victim of identity theft to apply for and receive a new driver’s license with a new distinguishing number upon presenting proof of identity theft. Allows a law enforcement report that lists the applicant as a victim of identity theft as proof. Authorizes the department of safety to charge a duplicate license fee for a victim of identity theft to obtain the new license.

2018 Tennessee Laws Pub. Ch. 800

Solicitation of Accident Victims

Tenn. Code Ann. § 63-1-129  prohibits health care prescribers, and those associated, from using certain types of solicitation towards victims of an accident or disaster for the purpose of marketing their services within 30 days from the accident. Applicable to "marketing services of the healing arts related to the accident or disaster" occurring on or after July 1, 2018.

2018 Tennessee Laws Pub. Ch. 638

*Note: This is applicable to "marketing services of the healing arts related to the accident or disaster" applying to violations occurring on or after July 1, 2018. The law is enforced by the Tennessee Department of Health.  If you feel are a potential victim of a violation of this law, you can submit a complaint to the Dept. of Health here.

The Tennessee Consumer Protection Act of 1977 and other related laws may be found at the following:

Consumer Protection Act (Tenn. Code Ann.  § 47-18-125)

Under this section, if an unfair or deceptive act or practice is committed against a consumer who is 60 years of age or older, civil penalties up to $10,000 for each violation may be assessed, rather than the typical $1,000 per violation. 

1999 Tennessee Laws Pub. Ch. 200

Spoofing Law (Tenn. Code Ann.  §§ 47-18-2301 to 2305)

In 2017, the Tennessee General Assembly passed a law making it a crime to spoof a phone number on caller ID.   Violations are punishable as a Class A misdemeanor with a civil penalty of up to $10,000 per violation.  Spoofing is when a scammer uses technology to make a call or text appear as though it is coming from a legitimate number even though it is not.  For instance, the number on your cell phone may appear to be from the utility company or the police department, and it is actually from a scammer in another state or country.

2017 Tennessee Laws Pub. Ch. 257

Elderly and Vulnerable Adult Protection Act (Tenn. Code Ann.  §§ 39-15-501 to 509)

In 2017, the “Elderly and Vulnerable Adult Protection Act” was enacted.  Importantly, this Act increases the criminal penalties for any person who abuses, neglects, or exploits a person 65 or older.  For example, this Act increases the offense from a Class D felony to a Class E felony.  It also requires courts to impose certain minimum fines these convictions in addition to any other punishment that may be imposed for financial exploitation.  

2017 Tennessee Laws Pub. Ch. 466

Elderly and Vulnerable Adult Financial Exploitation Prevention Act (Tenn. Code Ann.  §§ 45-2-1201 to 1206)

In 2017, the “Elderly and Vulnerable Adult Financial Exploitation Prevention Act” was passed.  If a financial service provider, such as a bank, suspects that financial exploitation may have occurred or is being attempting, the bank may refuse or delay the financial transaction and report it to the Department of Human Services (Adult Protective Services Division). 

2017 Tennessee Laws Pub. Ch. 264

Identity Theft Victims’ Rights Act of 2004 (Tenn. Code Ann.  § 39-14-150)

In Tennessee, identity theft is charged as a Class D felony, carrying a prison sentence of between 2- 12 years and a fine of up to $5,000. Additionally, the state may recover attorney fees and other legal costs, while a civil court may award the victim three times the actual damages and attorney's fees.

2004 Tennessee Laws Pub. Ch. 911

The Tennessee Identity Theft Deterrence Act of 1999 (Data Breach Notification Law) (Tenn. Code Ann.  § 47-18-2107)

This Act generally requires businesses, the State, or any political subdivision of the State, to notify any data breach to TN residents whose personal information was or may have been acquired by an “unauthorized person”.  This year, this Act was amended to provide that “unauthorized person” may include, not only someone who has intentionally used the information for an unlawful purpose, but, also, a person who intends to use it for an unlawful purpose.  In Tennessee, the organization must provide notice of the data breach within 45 days, unless law enforcement requires an extension for legitimate reasons.    

1999 Tennessee Laws Pub. Ch. 201

Lemon Law (Tenn. Code Ann. §§ 55-24-101 to 112)

If you purchased a new vehicle, or a vehicle that is still under the manufacturer’s warranty, and that vehicle has a defect or condition that makes it unreliable or is unsafe for normal operation, and the manufacturer or dealer cannot repair the vehicle after three attempts or the vehicle is out of service for repairs for a total of 30 or more days, you may be entitled to return the vehicle and receive a refund of the full purchase price. Prior to receiving a refund under the Lemon Law, you must notify the manufacturer of the problem in writing by certified mail. Lawsuits must be brought within six months of: one year from the date of original delivery of your car or from the expiration of your expressed warranty, whichever is later.

Tennessee Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act (Tenn. Code Ann. § 66-28-101)

By statue, the Landlord Tenant Act only applies in counties that have a population greater than 68,000.   These counties are: Anderson, Blount, Bradley, Davidson, Greene, Hamilton, Knox, Madison, Maury, Montgomery, Putnam, Rutherford, Sevier, Shelby, Sullivan, Sumner, Washington, Williamson, or Wilson.  Tenants in these counties can file a complaint with the Tennessee Consumer Affairs Division.  Consumer Affairs will attempt the contact the landlord to help mediate the situation.  If the landlord agrees to mediation, then mediation can occur.  If a landlord does not agree to mediation, then legal action is the standard response.

Protected Consumer Security Freeze  (Tenn. Code Ann. § 47-18-2111)

Gives parents or legal guardians the ability to enact a security freeze on persons under 16 years of age or an incapacitated person under the care of a guardian or conservator. When the freeze is in place, consumer reporting agencies (e.g. TransUnion, Equifax, Experian) cannot release that person’s credit report or any other information regarding that person unless the security freeze is removed. This prevents others from requesting information, but it may also prevent you from allowing others to access that information quickly should that become necessary in the future.

Cooling Off Rule under the “Tennessee Home Solicitation Sales Act of 1974 (Tenn. Code Ann. § 47-18-701 et seq.)

After a natural disaster, you may find salespeople at your door offering a variety of home-repair products or services. You may have certain cancellation rights when sales occur in your home, from the back of a truck, or anywhere but the seller’s established place of business.

  • If the sale is more than $25, you can cancel within three days and still get a full refund. The salesperson is required to tell you about your three-day right to cancel and give you a form to use.
  • You can cancel for any reason, but you have to do it in writing. Sign and mail the form the salesperson gave you at the sale. Make sure it is post-marked before midnight on the third business day after the sale.
  • Under Tennessee law if you request the seller to provide the goods or services without delay because of an emergency and you agree in writing that you are waiving your right to cancel due to the emergency, you will not be able to cancel the transaction.