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Washington 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. Washington has not adopted the Federal Uniform Deceptive Trade Practices Act (UDTPA), but does prohibit consumer fraud practices such as false advertising, odometer tampering, and other types of deceptive trade practices.

Filing A Private Lawsuit

Washington state consumers are allowed to bring private suits against individuals and businesses that engage in unfair or deceptive business practices. Under the Washington Consumer Protection Act (CPA), 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.

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

If you wish to file a complaint against a Washington state business, contact the Washington State 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 Washington, and is prohibited from serving as an attorney for individual consumers.

Arbitration Hearings

There may be times when the Washington State Attorney General's Office can act as an intermediary to help resolve disputes between you and a Washington state business.

For example, the Washington 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.

Contact the Attorney General or consider speaking to a consumer protection attorney to find out more.

Learn more about Washington's deceptive trade practices laws in the table below, with links to additional resources.

Uniform Deceptive Trade Practices Act Adopted No (§19.86.010 et seq.)
False Advertising Forbidden Yes (§19.86.020)
Who May Bring Suit Any injured person, attorney general (§§19.86.090, 095)
Remedies Available Civil penalties; injunctive degrees; treble damages, including costs and attorney's fees; (treble damages may not exceed $10,000); actual damages; injunctive relief (§19.86.090)
Auto Odometer Tampering Forbidden Yes (§46.37.540); civil suit may recover costs and attorney's fees (§46.37.590)

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

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