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Missouri Deceptive Trade Practices Laws

Overview of Missouri Deceptive Trade Practice Laws

Even legitimate advertising can sometimes be misleading, but it crosses the line when it involves such acts as fraud, blatant misinformation, or tampering. A violation of Missouri deceptive trade practice law may include anything from odometer tampering to bait and switch sales tactics. State law provides for both criminal charges and civil claims, as well as injunctions and payment of restitution. Some of the more serious violations may be charged as felonies.

Which Trade Practices are Considered Deceptive in Missouri?

Missouri statute, which has not adopted the Uniform Deceptive Trade Practices Act, generally prohibits the use of "deception, fraud, false pretense, false promise, [and] misrepresentation..." in connection with commerce. The Missouri Merchandising Practices Act (MMPA) regulates specific industries and practices, such as:

  • Health Spas - Strict disclosure guidelines and limits on long-term contracts.
  • Charitable Organizations - Disclosure of the solicitation of funds for the benefit of any charitable purpose.
  • Odometer Fraud - Car dealers may not "roll back" the odometer in order to falsify the mileage.
  • Credit Repair - Criminalizes certain types of fraud advertised as credit repair services.
  • Rental-Purchase Agreements - Restrictions on certain contractual agreements, such as waiving one's consumer legal rights.

In order to be found guilty of a deceptive trade practice under the MMPA, the following elements must be satisfied:

  1. There was a purchase, advertisement, or solicitation of merchandise,
  2. Primarily for personal, family, or household purposes;
  3. The Plaintiff suffers a measurable loss of money or property, and
  4. The loss resulted from an act, committed in relation to a sale or advertisement declared deceptive under the law.

How to File a Consumer Complaint in Missouri

Consumers who are subject to a deceptive trade practice and suffer actual losses (money or measurable property) may file a private lawsuit. In order to file a formal complaint, go to the Office of the Missouri Attorney General online complaint form. By submitting the form, you agree to testify in court to the facts stated in the complaint.

Uniform Deceptive Trade Practices Act Adopted No (§407.010 to 407.130)
False Advertising Forbidden Yes (§407.020)
Who May Bring Suit Consumer, class action (§407.025) attorney general (§407.100)
Remedies Available For false advertising: court may award punitive damages, attorney's fees, injunction (§407.025) restitution civil penalty not more than $1,000 (§407.100) misdemeanor penalty (§§570.160.170)
Auto Odometer Tampering Forbidden Yes; (§407.511 et seq.); treble damages or $2,500 whichever is greater and attorney's fees (§407.546); injunction (§407.551); odometer fraud in the first degree is a Class A misdemeanor (§407.516); in the second degree, Class D felony (§407.521); in the third degree is a Class C misdemeanor (§407.526)

Note: State laws are constantly changing -- contact a Missouri consumer protection attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

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Missouri Deceptive Trade Practices Laws: Related Resources

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