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What deceptive trade practices should Florida businesses avoid?

Consumers and businesses alike should have a firm understanding on what deceptive trade practices are. According to the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act, deceptive trade practices include any methods of competition that are deemed unfair or unconscionable. Some common examples of these include the following:

  •        False advertising
  •        Inaccurate pricing
  •        Distorting credit or payment terms
  •        Providing misleading representations of a product

It is possible for consumers to bring lawsuits against companies that have violated the state and federal law regarding these practices. Penalties for such infractions can result not only in compensating a victim, but also criminal charges ranging from misdemeanors to felonies.

The Florida laws mirror the federal laws that the Federal Trade Commission works to enforce. According to the FTC, business litigation regarding unfair practices in 2013 resulted in $297 million in redress and disgorgement payments and $20 million in civil penalties.

If you own a business and wish to ensure you are in compliance with state and federal laws, it is important to do what you say. In other words, if you make a promise to consumers, you need to make sure you can fulfill it. Moreover, you should say what you do – and only what you do. Any advertising or marketing should only detail the product or service as it is.

The American Bar Association also advises that you should never retroactively change the rules of a policy that could be a detriment to consumers. Any changes made to a privacy policy or other rule should always be put in writing to the consumer.

While this information may be useful, it should not be taken as legal advice.

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