Iowa, like other states, tries to protect its citizens from various bad business practices. Deceptive trade practices are essentially any practice that is misleading or unfair to the consumer. An example would be to advertise you’re selling designer jeans for $10 (what a steal!?) and when the customers gets to the store, they find cheaply made counterfeit jeans manufactured under the labels “Designer,”“Vara Wang,” and “Mark Jacobs.” Customers may appreciate good deals, but lying to get their business is not acceptable.
The following chart outlines the main deceptive trade practices laws in Iowa.
|Code Sections||Iowa Code Chapter 714H – Consumer Fraud: Private Actions and Section 714.16 – Consumer Frauds|
|Uniform Deceptive Trade Practices Act||Iowa didn’t adopt the Uniform Deceptive Trade Practices Act, but did enact the “Private Right of Action for Consumer Frauds Act” that generally covers the same types of bad business practices.|
|What is Prohibited?||Any unfair practices as defined under Iowa law to be an act or practice that causes substantial, unavoidable injury to consumers that isn’t outweighed by any consumer benefits the practice produces.
Also, any practices or acts that a person knows or reasonably should know are unfair, deceptive, fraudulent, false, or are misrepresentative or conceal an important fact with the intent that others rely on the practice in connection with an advertisement or sale of consumer goods or the solicitation of charitable contributions.
|False Advertising||Iowa law forbids false advertising under both the consumer frauds section in the criminal law and under the public health law.
Under the public health section, advertising falsely or misleadingly that a drug, device, or cosmetic cures cancer, baldness, STIs, blood diseases, and pretty much everything else that it doesn’t actually effect is prohibited.
|Auto Odometer Tampering||Yes, tampering with a vehicle’s odometer to show the car has anything other than its actual mileage is prohibited in Iowa and is considered a fraudulent practice.|
|Who Can Sue?||Both the Iowa Attorney General’s Office and an individual can sue for unfair business practices.|
|Remedies||Unfair business practices can lead to many consequences. A court can order a temporary restraining order, preliminary injunction, and/or permanent injunction to stop the bad acts. Violating a restraining order or injunction can be fined up to $5,000 per day.
In addition, the Attorney General can request a civil penalty of not more than $40,000 per violation. The defendant may also have to pay the court and investigation costs, as well as reasonable attorney's fees. The defendant may be ordered to pay a consumer’s actual damages or financial losses and their attorney’s fees.
If you’ve been harmed by a business in Iowa, you may want to report them to the Attorney General’s Office. You can file a complaint online or mail it in, or call 1-888-777-4590 for more information.
Even if you file a complaint with the Attorney General, you may still want to hire your own experienced local consumer protection lawyer. Your lawyer can tell you about other legal options and can sue the person or business that harmed you.
Note: State laws are constantly being updated. Contact an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify these laws.
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