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Rhode Island Deceptive Trade Practices Laws

While advertisers often make grandiose claims about their products or services, they typically fall just shy of outright deception. Exaggerating a product's merits is one thing, but false advertising, passing used goods off as new, and other deceptive trade practices are prohibited by state laws. State attorneys typically bring claims against businesses on behalf of aggrieved consumers, but sometimes these cases are prosecuted in criminal courts.

Rhode Island Deceptive Trade Practice Laws at a Glance

Rhode Island's Deceptive Trade Practices Act prohibits a long list of acts considered to be over the line. These include, but are not limited, to:

  • Passing off goods or services as those of another
  • Causing likelihood of confusion or of misunderstanding as to the source, sponsorship, approval, or certification of goods or services
  • Representing that goods are original or new if they are deteriorated, altered, reconditioned, reclaimed, used, or secondhand
  • Disparaging the goods, services, or business of another by false or misleading representation of fact
  • Advertising goods or services with intent not to sell them as advertised

The state's attorney general has the authority to file lawsuits for breaches of this law, as do consumers who are able to quantify their losses. Offenders found liable usually have to pay damages (sometimes even punitive damages), may be subject to injunction, and often are on the hook for the plaintiff's court costs and attorney's fees. Contact the Rhode Island Attorney General's Office to file a complaint.

More details of Rhode Island's deceptive trade practices statute can be found in the following chart. See FindLaw's Consumer Transactions section for related articles.

Uniform Deceptive Trade Practices Act Adopted No (§§6-13.1-1 to 12)
False Advertising Forbidden Yes (§6.13.1-1)
Who May Bring Suit Attorney general (§6-13.1-5); consumer with ascertainable loss (§6-13.1-5.2) Class actions allowed (§6-13.1-5.2)
Remedies Available The greater of actual damages or $200; punitives or equitable damages; injunction; attorney's fees, costs (§6-13.1-5.2)
Auto Odometer Tampering Forbidden Yes (§§31-23.2-4; 31-23.2-3); prison up to 5 years or fine up to $10,000 or $1.00 per mile mileage fraud; revocation of license (31-23.2-7)

Note: State laws are always subject to change at any time through the actions of higher courts, enactment of new legislation, or other means. You should contact a Rhode Island consumer protection attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

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