Who is Vulnerable to a CFA Claim? Why the Term “Merchant” is Important Under the Law?

The CFA makes reference to “merchant” to describe a seller of goods or services subject to the Act vs. a casual seller who is excluded from liability under the law. But note that the CFA often applies to part-time merchants. For example, courts applied the CFA to the following:

  • A part-time baker or hairstylist operating out of his or her home without any signage or other advertising.
  • A vendor at a local flea market with a dedicated area to sell goods.
  • An internet-based retailer operating nationally from a fixed location in NJ.
  • Even banks engaging in the sale of real estate for profit.

The CFA is not applicable to everyone and to all matters. Exclusions apply to:

  • The seller of a single automobile on the internet.
  • An incidental seller of “something” (you pick the something) on Facebook Marketplace (you get the idea).
  • A young aspiring college graduate who offers to do a limited freelance job for you.

A CFA violator must:

  • Engage in “a professional or commercial activity.”
  • Sell or offer for sale goods or services which is subject to the Act.
  • Involve a consumer transaction.

Whether a seller is a “merchant” (or not) can be confusing. It is a fact-sensitive analysis. Remember, the CFA is not just limited to fast-talking, deceptive merchants but also applies to skilled and trained contractors and service providers.

What About Out-of-State Merchants? Are They Subject to New Jersey’s CFA?

The short answer is yes, but sometimes no. How can that be, you ask? In certain circumstances, out-of-state merchants can be held liable under the CFA, since New Jersey “has an interest in protecting its consumers from foreign corporations.” The likelihood of success will, in most cases, depend on the facts of the case. We invite you to schedule a consultation with a member of our firm to discuss your case if an out-of-state merchant is involved. Contact Fredrick P. Niemann, Esq. at (855) 376-5291 if you think you have a claim. He welcomes your call.

Fredrick P. Niemann Esq.


Consumer Fraud Attorney Serving These New Jersey Counties:

Monmouth, Ocean, Mercer, Middlesex, Bergen, Burlington, Union