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Maryland Deceptive Trade Practices Laws

It’s always the same back and forth when we’re buying something: we consumers want to get the best deal possible, while companies are trying to make as much money as possible. This is fine, so long as both sides of the transaction are up front and honest. But what about sellers who make false claims about their products or use misleading tactics to entice sales?

Such tactics are called “deceptive trade practices” and include anything from mislabeling food products to hiding defects on a used car. Luckily for consumers, laws exist to protect citizens from false advertising and other shady sales tactics. This is a brief summary of deceptive trade practice laws in Maryland.

Deceptive Trade Practices Laws

Maryland has not adopted the Uniform Deceptive Trade Practices Act. Instead, the state has followed common law and has a specialized Consumer Protection Division. Deceptive trade practices laws in Maryland are highlighted in the chart below.

Uniform Deceptive Trade Practices Act Adopted

No (Com. Law §§13-301, et seq.)

False Advertising Forbidden

Yes (Com. Law §13-301)

Who May Bring Suit

Consumer Protection Division; attorney general; consumer (Com. Law §13-401)

Remedies Available

Fine up to $1,000; injunction; actual damages; possibly attorney's fees (Com. Law §§13-401, et seq.) misdemeanor $1,000 and/or up to 12 months in jail (Com. Law §13-411)

Auto Odometer Tampering Forbidden

Yes (Transp. 22 §415)

Protecting Yourself Against Deceptive Trade Practices

While deceptive trade practices laws can provide a remedy after the fact, consumers should always be on guard to avoid scams in the first place. If you think a person or local business has engaged in deceptive business practices, you can contact a consumer protection office in your area. This office can provide information about existing consumer scams as well as investigate and prosecute new scams using criminal statutes.

There are also federal resources you can use to report deceptive trade practices, available at www.consumeraction.gov. And a number of nonprofits, like the Better Business Bureau at www.bbb.org and www.fraud.org can assist you in filing consumer fraud complaints, from filling out a fraud complaint online, to forwarding it to the appropriate local, state, and federal agencies.

Maryland Deceptive Trade Practices Laws: Related Resources

Deceptive trade practice laws can change as quickly as the consumer scams that they protect us from. If you would like legal advice regarding a deceptive trade practices or a possible consumer fraud matter, you can contact a Maryland consumer protection attorney. You can also visit FindLaw's Consumer Protection section for more articles and resources on this topic.

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