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Understanding deceptive trade practices

Florida residents who feel they have been misled by false claims, disinformation or other misleading practices of a retailer or manufacturer may wish to consider filing a lawsuit against that business for deceptive trade practices. As FindLaw explains, under Florida’s Deceptive & Unfair Trade Practices Act, consumers can bring such an action if they have been damaged, financially or otherwise, by a business that engaged in false advertising, false labeling, or the making of outrageously inaccurate claims and/or promises about their product.

The Florida law covers such industries as the following;

  • Food
  • Supplements
  • Real estate
  • Vehicles
  • Credit cards

Examples of unfair trade practices

Numerous acts are considered to be deceptive trade practices, including the following:

  • Resetting or disconnecting a vehicle’s odometer so as to hide its actual mileage
  • Falsely claiming that a vehicle or other consumer product needs repairs
  • Falsely advertising goods as new when they actually are used or reconditioned
  • Falsely advertising goods for sale without having enough of them in stock to meet the expected demand
  • Selling counterfeit goods

Civil penalties

Consumers who prevail in their civil lawsuits can recover their actual monetary damages plus their attorneys’ fees. If the judge and/or jury finds that the company engaged in willful unfair trade practices, the consumer could be awarded an additional $10,000 in punitive damages; i.e., a civil fine levied against the company.

Criminal penalties

In Florida, deceptive trade practices are crimes as well as civil wrongs. Most of them are second degree misdemeanors, but tampering with a vehicle odometer is a third degree felony. Conviction of these crimes carries substantial fines and could result in prison terms for the company’s owners.

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