False advertising is a form of fraud perpetrated on consumers. It typically involves an untrue or deceptive claim that misrepresents a product, service, or price.
False advertising can take many forms. The most common forms of false advertising include, but are not limited to the following:
Using confusing, misleading, or untrue statements when promoting a product or service.
Failing to disclose information about a product or service.
Charging customers hidden fees or surcharges which cause the final price paid by the customer to be substantially higher than the advertised price.
Bait and switch advertising in which a business advertises a good or service with no intent to sell them as advertised, but instead to sell something different (and usually more expensive) than what drew the customer in initially.
Numerous state and federal laws are in place to protect against false or misleading advertising. The Federal Trade Commission enforces federal consumer protection laws such as the FTC Act. In addition, the Lanham Act (15 U.S.C. § 1051) prohibits false advertising and allows companies to make false advertising claims against other companies if the plaintiff has suffered damage to reputation or lost sales as a result of the false statements by the competitor.
In California, the False Advertising Act (Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code § 17500), the Unfair Competition Law (Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code § 17200), and the Consumer Legal Remedies Act (Cal. Civ. Code § 1770) provide remedies for advertisements that are false as well as advertisements which, although true, are either misleading or are likely to deceive or confuse the public.
If you believe that you or your business has been a victim of false advertising, contact the Sequoia Law Firm for a 30-minute consultation free of charge.