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California deceptive trade practices and their legal consequences

Deceptive business practices can involve anything from breaching contracts to tampering with odometer readings before selling a vehicle. Engaging in false advertising is illegal under California law.

This can include deceptive pricing, where a company inflates a price solely so they can bring it down and pretend as if it is a sale, or bait and switch sales scams. Additionally, trying to attract people using the tactic of offering an item at a low price yet only having a few of that item in stock is also considered deceptive. This is because an attempt at selling a different higher priced item is made after the potential buyer has been attracted by the low priced object.

If a business is accused of false advertising, those who are allowed to bring a lawsuit include the attorney general or any individual who has the right to seek restitution of damages. If a person is criminally convicted of false advertising, they are guilty of a misdemeanor. That person may be faced with incarceration in a county jail for up to 6 months. In addition, a fine may be levied. That fine may not exceed $2,500. Tampering with an odometer is also considered a misdemeanor.

The consequences of facing a false advertising allegation may be detrimental to a business. If the allegations are false, it may be beneficial for a person to dispute them with help from an attorney who is familiar with business litigation. That attorney may be able to build a case that disputes the allegations. The attorney might also be able to negotiate a settlement deal with the other party, depending on the circumstances.

Source: Findlaw, "California Deceptive Trade Practices Laws", November 20, 2014

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