Ok guys, here is the response I received, via e-mail, from the FTC.
"Thank you for your letter regarding your experiences with your financing. I can assure you that the Federal Trade Commission is concerned about the practices you describe. Because many of the terms of a particular credit agreement are governed by state rather than federal law, however, a private attorney familiar with the state laws probably would be in the best position to give you immediate relief. You, therefore, may wish to contact the local bar association, or the local Legal Aid or Legal Services office, for a referral to an attorney who specializes in this area. In addition, you may wish to contact the state Attorney General's office, or a local consumer protection agency, for assistance.
In addition to any causes of action you may have under state law, the Commission enforces enforces the Truth in Lending Act ("TILA"), 15 U.S.C. 1601 et seq., and its implementing Regulation Z. Under the TILA and Regulation Z, creditors are required to provide consumers with written disclosures of the costs and credit terms associated with financing. Among the required disclosures are the annual percentage rate and the finance charge. Generally, creditors must make these disclosures before the transaction. In addition, special disclosures about variable rate features of the financing are also required. Also, under an amendment to the TILA, creditors making certain high-rate, high-fee mortgages must provide certain additional disclosures and comply with certain prohibitions required by the Home Ownership and Equity Protection Act ("HOEPA"). Also, for certain home equity mortgages and some refinances involving a security interest in your principal dwelling, there may be a right to rescind the mortgage after consummation of the transaction. The TILA has many other provisions, including those pertaining to billing errors and other protections for credit cards. Under some circumstances, the TILA provides a private right of action against creditors for disclosure and other violations. Consumers may file lawsuits for actual damages and/or statutory damages, plus costs and reasonable attorney's fees.
The Commission also enforces the Federal Trade Commission Act ("FTC Act"). 15 U.S.C. 41-58. In interpreting Section 5 of the FTC Act, 15 U.S.C. 45, which prohibits unfair or deceptive acts or practices, the Commission has determined that a representation, omission, or practice is deceptive if (1) it is likely to mislead consumers acting reasonably under the circumstances; and (2) it is material; that is, likely to affect consumers' conduct or decisions with respect to the product at issue. In a statute that became effective in August 1994, Congress amended Section 5 of the FTC Act to provide that an act or practice is unfair if the injury to consumers it causes or is likely to cause (1) is substantial; (2) is not outweighed by countervailing benefits to consumers or to competition; and (3) is not reasonably avoidable by consumers themselves. In determining whether to take enforcement or other action in any particular situation, the Commission may consider a number of factors, including the type of violation alleged; the nature and amount of consumer injury at issue and the number of consumers affected; and the likelihood of preventing future unlawful conduct and securing redress or other relief. While only the Commission can enforce the FTC Act, many states have comparable statutes, some with a private right of action. Private rights of action also may exist for other claims under state law, such as fraud.
Thank you for bringing this matter to our attention. We will contact you in the future if we need additional information, and we hope the information in this letter is helpful."
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