Florida’s pro-business approach makes it one of the best states to run a company in the United States. However, all these advantages tend to attract more companies, making it a competitive environment for thriving businesses.
To protect lawful businesses and consumers from unethical methods of competition, Florida law precludes unreasonable practices or acts during any commercial activities developed within the state.
In this article, you will find out a full guide about the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act (FDUTPA).
Unfair Trade Practices Act in Florida – As Provided by Law
The second part of Chapter 501 of the Florida Statutes (501.201 – 501.213) provides Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act, also known as FDUPTA. This law has three main reasons to be, which are:
- “To simplify, clarify, and modernize the law governing consumer protection, unfair methods of competition, and unconscionable, deceptive, and unfair trade practices” (FS §501.202 (1))
- “To protect the consuming public and legitimate business enterprises from those who engage in unfair methods of competition, or unconscionable, deceptive, or unfair acts or practices in the conduct of any trade or commerce” (FS §501.202 (2))
- “To make state consumer protection and enforcement consistent with established policies of federal law relating to consumer protection” (FS §501.202 (3))
Accordingly, Florida law protects any individual who becomes a victim from someone else’s unconscionable, unfair, or deceptive trade practices.
Federal Trade Commission Act vs FDUPTA – Are There Any Similarities?
The Federal Trade Commission Act was signed into law in 1914 by President Woodrow Wilson. Ultimately, the purpose of this federal law is to outlaw the existence of unfair competition methods and unfair acts or practices that affect commerce.
Inspired by the Federal Act, Florida Legislature passed FDUTPA in 1973 to attain the same purpose, which is prohibiting unfair competition, as well as illegal or dishonest trade practices. Since then, FDUTPA has been amended several times.
FDUTPA offers a private right of action to individuals. On the other hand, only the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) may sue to enforce the law under the Federal Act.
Another advantage of FDUTPA is that it protects competing businesses and consumers from a wide array of misleading and false tactics used to trick customers into:
- Paying for goods or services they did never receive
- Paying more than was advertised for goods or services
Enforcing the Unfair Trade Practices Act in Florida – Bringing an Action to Court
FDUTPA permits victims of unfair trade practices to bring a lawsuit to court to obtain:
- A judicial order for damages suffered, as well as expenses of the litigation (e.g., attorney’s fees)
- A judicial order to force the infringing party to stop their unlawful practices
- An official court declaration that the practice/act harming the plaintiff is a violation of Florida Statutes
In this context, while the Florida Statutes do not specify any conduct/actions that violate the law, it references any acts or conducts declared unlawful by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
Unfair Trade Practices Act in Florida – Real-World Examples
In Florida, there are several types of deceptive practices prohibited under the FDUTPA. Typically, such practices are used as tactics to attract consumers, which includes (but is not limited to):
- Misleading or false advertising (e.g., bait and switch)
- Misrepresenting used goods as new
- Adding unauthorized charges onto customers’ phone bills
- Wrongly placing sponsored content/ads among news items in online marketing
- Negative-option marketing (sellers’ interpretation of a customer’s failure to take an affirmative action)
- Deceptively claiming that a product needs replacement or repair (e.g., vehicle)
- Price gouging during or after a state of emergency (e.g., flood, hurricane, etc.)
- Knowingly adding undisclosed or improper fees into a bill or contract
- Misrepresenting someone’s authority to close a sale or negotiate terms
Since Florida Consumer Collection Act (FDCPA) prohibits unfair debt collection, most courts tend to judge practices associated with unlawful debt collection under FDUTPA’s provisions.
If you have been a victim of any deceptive or unfair trade practices, consult with an expert attorney in Florida immediately. When choosing a legal advisor in Florida, make sure to work with someone experienced in handling FDUTPA-related lawsuits in court.
Unfair Trade Practices Act in Florida – Work with Jurado and Associates, P.A.
In Florida, both businesses and consumers have the protection of the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act against any unconscionable, deceptive, and unfair trade practices.