Consumer Laws and Regulations
The Consumer Protection Division enforces a number of consumer laws designed to protect the public from misrepresentations and deception, including the Iowa Consumer Fraud Act and the Iowa Consumer Credit Code.
Enforced by the Iowa Attorney General
Many of the consumer protection laws enforced by the Iowa Attorney General's Office are listed below. Each listing includes a link to the Code of Iowa. The link will take you to a page which permits you to choose which year's version of the Code you would like to use. We suggest that you always use the most recent version of the Code as it will have the most up to date version of laws. Once you have selected the version of the Code you wish to search, simply type in the box for "Section" the specific section listed below relating to the law you would like to see and click-on the box labelled "Get Section." For example, for the Consumer Fraud Act, link to the Code, click on the most recent year listed, type in "714.16" in the "Section" box and then click-on "Get Section." This will take you to the most recent version of the Consumer Fraud Act. If you need help using these links, please feel free to E-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or call (515) 281-3566, and ask for help using this service.
Iowa Consumer Fraud Act -- Iowa Code section 714.16 -- Prohibits unfair and deceptive trade practices in the sale, lease, or advertisement of a product or service, and in the solicitation of charitable contributions. Authorizes the Attorney General to issue subpoenas, hold hearings, adopt administrative rules, and file lawsuits to obtain temporary and permanent injunctive relief, consumer reimbursement, costs and attorney fees, and civil penalties up to $40,000 per violation.
Consumer Fraud – Private Right of Action -- Chapter 714H -- The “Private Right of Action” law, which took effect July 1, 2009, is a very important tool for consumers who have been cheated by consumer fraud or deception. Consumers can sue businesses that engage in deceptive practices, unfair practices, or misrepresentation, or that fail to disclose material facts.
The law covers areas with the most need for private remedies, including new and used car sales and service; home improvements; door-to-door sales; charitable solicitations; cell phone and satellite television sales and service; sweepstakes and telemarketing fraud; and many others. The law covers the sale, lease or advertisement of consumer merchandise, and solicitation of charitable contributions.
Consumers will be able to sue to recover actual damages, but will not be able to recover claims for bodily injury or pain and suffering. Consumers will also be able to seek punitive damages of up to three times actual damages in cases of willful and wanton conduct by the defendant. If the consumer wins the lawsuit, the court must award reasonable attorney fees.
Additional Civil Penalty for Consumer Frauds Committed Against the Elderly Iowa Consumer Fraud Act -- Iowa Code section 714.16A --
Allows the Attorney General to seek an additional civil penalty of up to $5,000 per violation against those who commit consumer fraud violations targeted against persons 65 years of age or older.
Business Opportunity Promotions -- Iowa Code chapter 551A -- Applies to the advertising and sale of business opportunities or programs one may purchase in order to set up one's own business.
Buying Clubs/Membership Sales -- Iowa Code chapter 552A -- Applies to "buying clubs" offering plans to the general public entitling the holder to purchase merchandise, materials, equipment or services, at a discount, at cost plus percentage, or similar method.
Car Rental and Collision Damage Waiver Act-- Iowa Code chapter 516D -- Sets standards regarding rentals of motor vehicles for sixty days or less and contains certain mandatory disclosures and prohibitions. Violations are per se violations of the Consumer Fraud Act.
Consumer Credit Code -- Iowa Code chapter 537 -- ("ICCC") Applies to the solicitation, inducement, negotiation, collection or enforcement of a consumer credit transaction that occurs in Iowa or with Iowa consumers. Among other things, this law requires certain disclosures to be given whenever a consumer loan is obtained or a product purchase is financed or is obtained through a loan. Transactions exceeding $25,000 are exempt.
Credit Repair -- Iowa Code chapter 538A -- r Applies to companies claiming to help consumers improve their credit record, history or rating, or provide advice in this area for a fee.
Debt Collection Practices Act -- Iowa Code sections 537.7101 - 537.7103-- Applies to a number of illegal and abusive collection tactics, sets limits on communications about a debt, describes and forbids fraudulent or misleading collection practices, and limits the types of charges collectors may assess consumer debtors. [Click here for further information regarding debt collection.]
Door-to-Door Sales -- Iowa Code chapter 555A -- Applies to the sale, lease or rental of goods or services of $25.00 or more at a place other than the seller's regular place of business. Gives consumers three business days to cancel door-to-door sales and requires businesses to orally advise consumers of their right to cancel and give two specific written notices of the right to cancel. Failure to give the notices allows the consumer to void the contract, and any financing agreements made concerning the sale. Violations are per se violations of the Consumer Fraud Act.
Drugs, Devices and Cosmetics -- Iowa Code chapter 126 -- Applies to the sale of an unapproved new drug and the false advertising of a drug represented to affect the diagnosis, prevention, or treatment of diseases. Violations are per se violations of the Consumer Fraud Act.
Loan Brokers -- Iowa Code chapter 535C -- Applies to the prohibited practice of assessing or collecting a fee to make a loan or assist a borrower in obtaining a loan, before the borrower receives the proceeds of the loan. Violations are per se violations of the Consumer Fraud Act. Certain transactions are exempt.
Membership Campgrounds -- Iowa Code chapter 557B -- Applies to the sale or advertisement of agreements for the use of a campground for more than 30 days and paid for by a fee or periodic payment. Requires membership campgrounds to register with the Attorney General and pay a fee.
Motor Vehicle Damage Disclosure Law -- Iowa Code section 321.69-- Requires the seller of a used car or truck that is less than 8 years old to issue a written disclosure to be the buyer at or before the time of sale stating whether the vehicle incurred damage from an accident while in the seller's ownership with repair costs exceeding 50% of the vehicle's pre-damage retail value, and whether the seller knows if the vehicle had previously been titled as salvage, flood, or rebuilt in Iowa or in any other state. Requires this disclosure to be on the vehicle title, if available, or on a separate statement. The car cannot be retitled without the issuance of a damage disclosure statement. Requires the new title to state whether a past owner disclosed prior damage. Violations of the law are violations of the Code of Iowa Consumer Fraud Act, section 714.16. Those who issue false damage disclosure statements may also be charged criminally.
Motor Vehicle Lemon Law -- Iowa Code chapter 322G -- Applies to the warranty repairs and replacements for motor vehicles which develop defects within the first two years or 24,000 miles after being placed in use by the first consumer owner, whichever expires first. The Attorney General does not handle individual Lemon Law complaints, but provides helpful information to consumers. [Click here for more information about Iowa's Lemon Law. ]
Motor Vehicle Service Trade Practices -- Iowa Code chapter 537B -- Applies to all car repairs done for a fee, including those done by individuals who perform occasional repairs. Requires the consumer to be told of his or her right to receive a written or oral estimate for repairs exceeding $50 and requires that the final charge not exceed the estimate, with an exception for taxes and for additional, unforeseen but necessary repairs which exceed the estimate by up to 10 per cent. Violations are per se violations of the Consumer Fraud Act.
Pay-Per-Call Service Act (900#'s) -- Iowa Code chapter714A -- Applies to unfair charges, unfulfilled promises, and deceptive practices involving 900#'s or other pay-per-call phone calls. Violations are per se violations of the Consumer Fraud Act.
Physical Exercise Clubs/Health Clubs -- Iowa Code chapter 552 -- Applies to offers of services or facilities for physical fitness or the well-being of an individual in return for a fee. Includes requirements for physical exercise club contracts.
Prize Promotions -- Iowa Code chapter 714B -- Applies to solicitations, including but not limited to telemarketing and mail, which promote a prize. Requires a prize notice to be sent to consumers before receipt of the solicitation, if the solicitation states or implies that the consumer must pay something of value in order to qualify for the prize. Violations are per se violations of the Consumer Fraud Act.
Professional Fund Raisers -- Iowa Code chapter 13C -- Applies to professional organizations soliciting public donations. Requires that they register certain information with the Attorney General and pay a fee. Violations are per se violations of the Consumer Fraud Act. Click here to transfer to a web site from which you can download a professional fund raiser registration form. Click here to be transferred to the web site of the National Charities Information Bureau for information regarding specific charities.
Rent to Own Iowa Code sections 537.3601 - 537.3624 -- Applies to consumer rental purchases and requires certain disclosures in rent-to-own contracts.
Transient Merchant -- Iowa Code chapter 9C -- Requires sellers who enter Iowa to temporarily or intermittently sell goods, wares, or merchandise to obtain a file a bond with the Secretary of State. The Attorney General can sue to obtain an injunction against those who fail to file the bond.
Time-Shares -- Iowa Code chapter 557A -- Applies to the use, occupancy or possession of real property which circulates among purchasers on time-share intervals.
Travel Agencies -- Iowa Code chapter 9D -- Requires persons who market travel promotions in Iowa to register with the Secretary of State and post a $10,000 bond or alternative form of financial security, such as a letter of credit. Violations are per se violations of the Consumer Fraud Act.
Consumer Protection Laws Enforced by the Iowa Attorney General