Consumer frauds are fraudulent actions that cause physical or financial loss to the consumer by deception, unfair trade practices, or trickery. It is of many forms for e.g. misleading advertisements, food tampering, selling overprized products, misrepresenting the condition of the product such as flat, etc. being sold, selling of spurious goods, fraudulent schemes, debit, and credit card frauds, and many more. The list of consumer frauds in exhaustible in the present times. Businessmen or service providers these days use illicit or illegal means for the promotion of their respective businesses due to which the cases of consumer fraud via both physical and E-platforms are on the rise. Consumers easily become the victims of these fraudulent activities due to lack of awareness, their pessimistic attitude or if they are in depression due to some financial loss, etc. they are suffering from which in turn impairs their decision-making ability and makes them more vulnerable to fall as a victim to these fraudulent activities. In India, the main Act that governs the rights of the consumers is the Consumer Protection Act, of 1956 now 2019 also known as COPRA. Looking at the present times where almost every activity is being conducted through an online platform, people are easily falling victim to e-frauds or cyber-crimes, The Consumer Protection Act of 2019 has helped the consumers by including deficiency in service provided through E-Platforms as compared to the previous act which included only the physical-platforms.
This Act lays down a three-tier consumer redressal mechanism to protect the consumers against and deficiency in goods or services or any fraud suffered by them by availing of those services. The use of the redressal system as laid down in the Act can only be used by those consumers who have approached the internal- grievance committee, mechanism or authorities provided for by the service provider for the redressal of consumer grievances and have tried to resolve the issue by all means or have exhausted all alternative remedies provided by the service provider. After that, the consumer can try to resolve his/her issue by sending a Legal Notice to their respective service provider so as to solve the issue amicably and without recourse to any statutory remedy.
The Three-tier redressal mechanism set up by the Act to protect the interests of the consumers is as follows:
1. DISTRICT FORUM:
The aggrieved consumer can file a complaint with the district forum when the fraud or deficiency involves an amount of INR 1 Crore or less than 1 Crore. If the consumer is not satisfied by the order passed by the district forum then it can appeal to the district forum within thirty days of the order passed by the previous forum i.e., in this case, it would be the district forum.
2. STATE FORUM:
The aggrieved consumer can file a complaint with the state forum when the fraud or deficiency involves an amount ranging from INR 1 Crore to INR 10 Crore. If the consumer is not satisfied by the order passed by the state forum, then it can appeal to the national forum within thirty days of the order passed by the previous commission i.e. in this case it would be the state forum.
3. NATIONAL FORUM:
The aggrieved consumer can file a complaint with the district commission when the fraud or deficiency involves an amount of more than INR 10 Crore. If the consumer is not yet satisfied by the order passed by the national forum, then it can appeal to the Hon’ble Supreme Court within thirty days of the order passed by the previous forum in this case it would be the national forum.