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Deceptive Advertising

Both state and federal law prohibit companies from using deceptive advertising practices. Those who are convicted of employing unlawful practices can be required to pay up to $10,000 in penalties for each violation, in addition to actual damages, and attorney’s fees, so if you have been accused of using unfair or deceptive advertising practices, it is critical to speak with an experienced white collar crime attorney who can help you begin formulating a defense.

What Qualifies as Intentional False Advertising?

Under Florida law, intentionally using false advertising during the sale of real or personal property, or of any services is strictly prohibited. This includes placing an advertisement before the general public that describes the property or services, while having no intent to sell the property at the price represented. Businesses are also prohibited from making deceptive claims about a product’s quality or purpose, or from giving consumers an incorrect understanding of the products which they are purchasing.

There are a number of different types of false advertising tactics, including:

  • Bait and switch advertising, which occurs when businesses lure consumers to their stores by promising to sell an item or service at a particular cost, but once the consumer arrives, they try to sell a more costly product;
  • High-pressure sales tactics involve pressuring a consumer into purchasing a product or service that they don’t actually want or intend to buy;
  • Artificially inflating prices, which occurs when a business wants to create the illusion that it is offering a great deal on a product or service.

Generally, refusing to sell a product at the price at which it was advertised creates a rebuttable presumption that the seller had the intent to use false advertising practices.

Exceptions

This law does not apply to specific individuals and entities, including:

  • Newspaper, magazine, or other publication publishers; and
  • Owners or operators of radio stations, television stations, or advertising media.

If these entities place an advertisement before the public in good faith, without having any knowledge that the person engaging them to do so does not intend to actually sell the property to a member of the general public, then they can escape liability under the law prohibiting false advertising.

Penalties

Companies that have been accused of using false advertising practices can be forced to:

  • Stop running certain advertisements;
  • Stop engaging in deceptive practices;
  • Begin including disclosure statements in their advertising;
  • Pay monetary damages to consumers;
  • Pay up to $10,000 in fines for each violation; and
  • Pay the cost of reasonable attorney’s fees for the other parties.

These penalties can have devastating consequences for businesses who were unfairly accused of false advertising.

Call an Experienced White Collar Crime Lawyer Today

To discuss your case with a dedicated white collar crime attorney in Florida, please call Jeffrey S. Weiner, P.A. Criminal Defense Attorneys at (305) 670-9919 to schedule a case evaluation. We are prepared to aggressively advocate on your behalf.

Resource:

flsenate.gov/Laws/Statutes/2011/817.44

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