Fort Lauderdale Deceptive Trade Practices Lawyer
Even savvy and sophisticated consumers can be taken advantage of when companies engage in deceptive practices to misrepresent their products or services. Florida’s Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act puts power in the hands of consumers who have been harmed by deceptive practices and allows them to sue for damages. Attorney Brendan Sweeney at Sweeney Law, P.A. can help you use that power to hold businesses accountable for their misdeeds and recover compensation for the financial harm which has been done to you. Learn more about the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act below, and contact Fort Lauderdale deceptive trade practices lawyer Sweeney Law. P.A. if you have been the victim of unfair business practices in Palm Beach, Broward or Miami-Dade County.
Facts about the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act
The Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act (FDUTPA) can be found in Florida Statutes 501.201-501.213. This law prohibits unfair competition, unconscionable acts or practices, and unfair or deceptive acts or practices. The range of unfair practices is construed very broadly to protect the public and legitimate business from the activities of unscrupulous businesses. Examples of conduct which may violate the law include:
- Negative options – shipping and billing products automatically, unless the customer declines in advance
- Cramming – adding unauthorized charges to a customer’s phone bill
- Undisclosed or improper fees slipped into the contract or bill
- Misleading advertising – “bait and switch”
- Misrepresenting used goods as new
- Misrepresenting a salesperson’s authority to close a sale or negotiate terms
- Misrepresenting that a repair or replacement is needed
- Electronic marketing with sponsored ads that pose as news (“fake news”)
- Price gouging during a state of emergency
In Florida, some of the most frequent complaints fall upon the following types of businesses:
- Flooring sales and installation
- Auto service and sales
- Timeshare resales
- Pest control
- Prepaid calling cards
- Travel sellers
- For-profit schools
- Data security
- Debt relief
Proving Deceptive Trade Practices under the FDUTPA
The law prohibits representations, omissions or practices which are likely to mislead the consumer. The representation or omission must be material, meaning it must have affected the consumer’s conduct or decision. This factor is viewed from the point of view of a reasonable consumer, and any representation relating to health, safety or cost is presumed to be material.
A consumer can sue under the Act and recover actual damages – the difference in the market value of the product or service given the condition it was delivered versus how it should have been delivered. In addition, the prevailing party in a lawsuit can recover attorney’s fees and costs from the other party. To be successful, the consumer has to prove that the seller engaged in a prohibited practice that caused harm to the consumer.
Sweeney Law, P.A. can evaluate whether you have a claim against a business and can help you prepare and present a strong case that proves the business’ misconduct and the harm done to you.
Is Unlawful Debt Collection Covered under the Law?
Different Florida courts have ruled differently on the question of whether deceptive acts after the sale are covered under the law. If you are experiencing fraudulent or unfair tactics related to debt collection or repossession, you may find relief under the FDUTPA, or other laws such as the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act or the Florida Consumer Collections Act. We can help you find the best way to recover compensation in your particular situation.
Help is Available to Stop Deceptive Trade Practices in Fort Lauderdale
Proving a case under the FDUTPA can be challenging and complicated. Florida consumer law attorney Brendan Sweeney has years of experience helping consumers who have been victimized by deceptive trade practices in Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties. If you believe you have been the victim of fraud or deceit in a commercial transaction, call Sweeney Law, P.A. in Fort Lauderdale to speak with a knowledgeable and dedicated Florida consumer lawyer.