Unfair trade practices can result in the loss of thousands of dollars to buyers who purchase inferior items, pay excessive amounts due to price fixing, or otherwise are taken advantage of for the financial benefit of a disreputable business. Many states, including Pennsylvania and New Jersey, have passed laws protecting consumers from such unfair trade practices. Consumers can protect themselves by learning more about these deceptive business practices.
Beware of False Advertising
Deceptive advertising is a common type of unfair trade practice. Beware of claims sounding “too good to be true” by insurance companies, cell phone service providers, car dealerships, or other businesses. Any advertising misleading a consumer regarding the true provider or affiliation of the service or product may constitute false advertising.
False advertising also can include:
- Falsely representing a product or service has certain qualities or features
- Failure to disclose all pertinent information about a service contract
- Charging consumers for undisclosed fees
- Falsely representing a product or service has met industry standards for safety or design
- “Bait and switch” promotions where there is not enough supply to meet demand in order to sell an alternative, more expensive product
- False endorsements
- Unsolicited sales calls disguised as sweepstakes or prize promotions
Consumers who suspect false advertising should refrain from purchasing the product until they can verify the authenticity of the product.
Demand Full Disclosure
When obtaining credit, consumers should be especially wary of potentially deceptive business practices. Individuals are entitled to full disclosure from their lender as required by the federal Truth in Lending Act. Lenders must present potential borrowers with all the terms before offering credit. This applies to credit card offers, home mortgage proposals, and student financial aid applications.
Full disclosure also is important in avoiding being the victim of deceptive contract negotiations. Consumers should be vigilant when signing a contract which includes one side provisions which often are unconscionable and unenforceable.
Investigate Compensation Sources
Another important way a consumer can protect themselves is to investigate the true source of compensation before entering into any business arrangement. The use of pyramid schemes or a promise of referral compensation to a buyer when the referral is based on some future event are other types of unfair trade practices.
Obtain Legal Assistance
One of the most effective ways a consumer can protect themselves from deceptive business practices is to consult with an experienced business attorney when they suspect an unfair trade practice. A lawyer can help consumers determine whether a business has violated the Federal Trade Commission’s consumer protection laws or state laws such as Pennsylvania’s Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law (UTPCPL) or New Jersey’s Consumer Fraud Act.
Navigating the complexities of these state statutes without the assistance of experienced business counsel can be extremely difficult. If a consumer is found to be the victim of an unfair trade practice, they may be entitled to compensation for their lost money or property. Under certain circumstances, this can include monetary awards for up to three times the actual damage sustained.
Philadelphia Business Lawyers at Harty Law Group Handle Unfair Trade Practice Claims
If you are involved in an unfair trade practice dispute, the experienced Philadelphia business lawyers at Harty Law Group are ready to assist you. Our offices are conveniently located in Philadelphia and Haddonfield, New Jersey to best serve individuals and business clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. To schedule an initial consultation with an experienced Philadelphia business attorney today, call us at 267-262-5650 or submit an online inquiry form.