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Pennsylvania Deceptive Trade Practices Laws

While misleading business practices may not be illegal under Pennsylvania law, certain practices that rise to the level of deceptive are prohibited by state law. Examples include bait-and-switch schemes and rolling back a used car's odometer. Pennsylvania deceptive trade practice laws prohibit false advertising, auto odometer tampering, and other shady business practices.

The statute, known as the Pennsylvania Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law, lists a number of "unfair or deceptive acts or practices." These include, but are not limited to:

  • Passing off goods or services as those of another.
  • Using deceptive representations or designations of geographic origin in connection with goods or services.
  • Representing that goods are original or new if they are deteriorated, altered, reconditioned, reclaimed, used, or secondhand.
  • Adverstising goods or services with intent not to sell them as advertised
  • Failing to comply with the terms of any written guarantee or warranty given to the buyer at, prior to, or after a contract for the purchase of goods or services is made.

Anyone who violates the state's deceptive trade practices law may face a temporary or permanent injunction from engaging in that practice. Whenever a permanent injunction is ordered, the court may also order the defendant (i.e. business owner) to compensate victims for any losses they may have suffered, such as refunding the cost of a fraudulently advertised product.

The office of Pennsylvania's attorney general provides detailed information about identifying consumer issues and, where appropriate, filing complaints.

The main provisions of Pennsylvania deceptive trade practice laws are highlighted in the following chart, with links to additional resources.

Uniform Deceptive Trade Practices Act Adopted No (Tit. 73 §§201-1 to 9) Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law
False Advertising Forbidden Yes (Tit. 73§201-2 and 3)
Who May Bring Suit Private actions, attorney general, district attorney (73 §201-4), consumer/purchaser suffering ascertainable loss (Tit. 73 §201-9.2)
Remedies Available Private actions for actual damages or $100 whichever is greater; court may award treble damages but not less than $100 (Tit. 73 §201-9.2); civil penalty up to $1,000, up to $3,000 if victim is 60 or older (Tit. 73 §201-8); suspend right to do business (Tit. 73 §201.9); injunction; costs and attorney's fees; any additional relief as deemed necessary or proper (Tit. 73 §201-9.2)
Auto Odometer Tampering Forbidden Yes (Tit. 75 §7132); three times actual damages or $3,000, whichever is greater, and attorney's fees (Tit. 75 §7138); criminal penalties (Tit. 75 §7139)

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

Pennsylvania Deceptive Trade Practices Laws: Related Resources

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