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Maine Deceptive Trade Practices Laws

State laws regulate how transparent a business must be and which business practices are considered deceptive, such as tampering with a used car's odometer or using blatantly false advertising. The Maine Unfair Trade Practices Act (UTPA) is a consumer’s basic remedy against any unfair or deceptive trade practices by a business. It prohibits unfair and deceptive practices in trade or commerce.

The Attorney General is charged with enforcing this law when he or she determines that an enforcement action would be in the public interest. Consumers can also bring their own private UTPA actions for relief in either Small Claims Court, District Court, or Superior Court.

What Is Considered An Unfair/Deceptive Business Practice?

Some examples of deceptive trade practices are:

  • Statements by merchants that are “likely” to deceive;
  • Small print disclosures that contradict a general claim;
  • Misrepresentation of a product’s characteristics;
  • Concealment of a contract provision;
  • Common Law fraud.

A trade practice can be unfair or deceptive even if the business had no intent to deceive.

Filing A Private Lawsuit

The state of Maine allows consumers to bring private lawsuits against individuals and businesses that engage in unfair or deceptive business practices. Under the UTPA, a consumer may bring a civil lawsuit to stop further deception, to recover monetary damages, and to recover one's litigation costs and attorney fees. A private unfair trade practice court action must be filed within 6 (six) years of the UTPA violation according to the Maine statute of limitations.

What Agency Can I Contact If I Have A Complaint Against A Business?

If you wish to file a complaint against a business in the state of Maine, contact the Maine Attorney General Consumer Protection Division. Keep in mind, the Attorney General's Office is authorized to bring legal action only in the name of the State of Maine, and is prohibited from serving as an attorney for individual consumers.

Arbitration Hearings

There may be times when the Attorney General's Office can act as an intermediary to help resolve disputes between you and a Maine state business. For example, the Maine State Motor Vehicle "Lemon Law" is designed to help new vehicle owners who have substantial continuing problems with warranty repairs. The law allows the owner to request an arbitration hearing through the Attorney General's Office.

Learn more about Maine's deceptive trade practices laws in the table below, with links to additional resources. See Details on State Deceptive Trade Practices and Fair Advertising FAQ: A Guide for Small Business to learn more.

Statute Maine Unfair Trade Practices Act
False Advertising Forbidden Unlawful (Tit. 10 §1212)
Who May Bring Suit? Attorney general, person likely to be damaged by practice (Tit. 10 §1213) and (Tit. 5 §209 & 5 §213)
Remedies Available? Injunction, possible to get attorney's fees and costs; also available are common law and other statutory remedies (Tit. 10 §1213) (Tit. 5 §213)
Auto Odometer Tampering Forbidden Yes (Tit. 29A §2106); class D offense

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

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