Florida Consumer Protection Law
Florida Deceptive And Unfair Trade Practices Act
Florida law prohibits businesses from engaging in deceptive and unfair acts which harm consumers, businesses and individuals. The Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act (also known as FDUTPA) is one of the strongest consumer protection laws in Florida. It provides that consumers can recover their actual damages from a business which has treated them unfairly or deceptively, in addition to having their attorneys’ fees paid.
Protects Consumers And Businesses
FDUTPA certainly applies to consumers. But it also can protect businesses which have been deceived or treated unfairly by another business!
Types Of Businesses Fdutpa Applies To
The Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act applies to virtually every business in Florida, although there are certain exceptions for groups of businesses regulated by other parts of Florida law (for instance, insurance companies). But for the most part, FDUTPA is a wonderful tool designed to protect consumers. Often consumers feel as though they may have few resources in disputes with larger businesses where the consumer feels deceived or treated unfairly. FDUTPA levels the playing field.
Deceptive And Unfair Acts
Fraudulent acts include false advertising, high-pressure sales tactics, "bait and switch" or "come-on" advertising, billing fraud, and use of contract language that misleads consumers. Additional examples of deceptive acts include the misrepresentation of product ingredients or origins, the use of misleading labels or tags and the implementation of packaging designs and advertising similar to a known consumer brand or trade name. Additional laws govern advertising for such specialized products like credit, consumer leases, and products sold through mail-order and telephone solicitation. The following actions may also constitute prohibited acts:
- Passes off goods or services as those of another.
- Causes likelihood of confusion or of misunderstanding as to the source, sponsorship, approval, or certification of goods or services.
- Causes likelihood of confusion or of misunderstanding as to affiliation, connection, or association with, or certification by, another.
- Uses deceptive representations or designations of geographic origin in connection with goods or services.
- Represents that goods or services have sponsorship, approval, characteristics, ingredients, uses, benefits, or qualities that they do not have or that a person has a sponsor-ship, approval, status, affiliation, or connection that he does not have.
- Represents that goods are original or new if they are deteriorated, altered, reconditioned, reclaimed, used, or second-hand.
- Represents that goods or services are of particular standard, quality, or grade, or that goods are of particular style or model, if they are of another.
- Disparages the goods, services, or business of another by false or misleading misrepresentation of fact.
- Advertises goods or services with intent not to sell them as advertised.
- Advertises goods or services with intent not to supply reasonably expected public demand, unless advertisement discloses a limitation of quantity.
- Makes false or misleading statements of fact concerning the reasons for, existence of, or amounts of price reductions.
- Engages in any other conduct which similarly creates the likelihood of confusion or of misunderstanding.
Other Practices Deemed Deceptive or Unfair
The Federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act governs most abuses by debt collectors in debt collection activities. However, when deceptive or unfair, FDUTPA may apply, particularly when federal law does not. For instance, FDUTPA statutes may provide remedies in situations that are not covered by these debt collection statutes. Most debt collection statutes do not cover some forms of debt collection, such as foreclosures, repossessions, and evictions, but a FDUTPA may apply. Moreover, deceptive trade practices statutes may also permit a consumer to bring a cause of action against the creditor itself, and not just the third party debt collector. Several cases have dealt with issues regarding misrepresentations made by debt collectors or deceptive agreements proposed by debt collectors.
Breach Of Warranties
Consumers have several means of enforcing a warranty provided in a sales or service contract. If a business employs deceptive practices with respect to the advertisement or negotiation of a warranty, the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act statute may provide a consumer a remedy.
Remedies For Violations Of Deceptive Trade Practices Statutes
A consumer who has been the victim of a deceptive trade practice has a variety of remedies. Florida statutes provide for recovery of actual damages, in addition to your attorney fees. Additionally, it may be possible to recover punitive damages in certain situations, although Florida law seems unclear.
Discuss your case for FREE today by calling the consumer protection attorneys at the Byrne Law Group at 813-413-6565 today.