States try to protect their residents from the kinds of unscrupulous business people who would sell snake oil to a grandmother and tell her it cures cancer. Deceptive trade practices are any of that type of practice, basically anything that’s unfair and misleading. These practices are often done specifically to tempt consumers into purchasing products or services that no one needs or would buy without the lies.
Connecticut has adopted laws to protect its citizens from unfair trade practices, including false advertising and regulations on how a person can sue a business or person that’s harmed them. The following table that briefly explains the Connecticut deceptive trade practices laws.
|Code Sections||Connecticut General Statutes Chapter 735a: Unfair Trade Practices Act
|Uniform Deceptive Trade Practices Act||Connecticut adopted the Uniform Deceptive Trade Practices Act by incorporating the model parts into the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act.|
|False Advertising Forbidden||Technically, false advertising isn’t specifically prohibited, but generally "unfair or deceptive acts" in trade, which is defined to include advertising.
Also, a newspaper, radio, television, or other media company can’t be considered to have violated these laws for printing, airing, or showing the misleading ad, as long as they didn’t know it was false.
|Who Can Sue?||The individuals who have been harmed themselves can sue the violator of these unfair practices laws. Also, the Commissioner of Consumer Protection who investigates these matters can, as can the Attorney General. Additionally, class actions are permitted for these cases, if multiple people could bring actions for the same unfair business practice in Connecticut.|
|Remedies||For a willful violation of these laws the penalty is $5,000 for each offense. Equitable relief to put the person back in the position they were before the unfair practice is possible. Also, injunctive relief where the violator is prohibited from doing something in the future is an option. If a temporary restraining order or injunction isn’t followed, the violator can be fined up to $25,000 per violation.
In addition, the judge can order the defendant pay the court costs, the plaintiff’s attorney's fees, and punitive damages (to discourage others from doing the same thing).
|Auto Odometer Tampering Forbidden||Yes, tampering with odometers to make a vehicle appear to have fewer miles than it really does is illegal in Connecticut. Odometer tampering is considered a violation of unfair trade practices. It’s also a Class A misdemeanor that can be criminally punished by up to one year in jail and up to a $2,000 fine.
In addition, the odometer tamperer could be liable for damages equal to three times the actual financial losses or $1,500, whichever is greater, court costs, and reasonable attorney’s fees, plus a civil penalty of not more than $1,000 for each violation. A licensed dealer or car repair shop could have its license suspended or revoked for this.
To report an unfair business practice you’ve experienced, contact the Department of Consumer Protection at 1-800-842-2649. You can file the appropriate complaint form by mail or email to [email protected]. You may also want to hire your own experienced local consumer protection lawyer, to learn more about your options and to bring your own private lawsuit.
Note: State laws are revised often, so it’s important to contact an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify any state laws you’re relying on.
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