Introduction to the PA Consumer Fraud Statute

 

Are you familiar with the Pennsylvania law which protects consumers from misleading and otherwise unscrupulous business practices? The actual rather lengthy title of the statute is the Pennsylvania Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law but it is sometimes more simply and generically referred to as the PA Consumer Fraud Statute. While the statute authorizes courts to order businesses to cease a wide variety of unfair trade practices when the Attorney General seeks to enjoin such behavior,  the statute also allows consumers to seek monetary damages if they are harmed by such practices. In fact the Court may at its discretion award the claimant triple his or her actual damages as well as attorneys’ fees and costs. The language of the statute includes a rather lengthy list of prohibited behaviors which constitute “unfair methods of competition” and “unfair or deceptive acts or practices”. You can see the full list at section 201-2(4) of the document at the following link, but some highlights are misrepresenting the characteristics of goods or services, false advertising, failing to comply with a written guarantee or warranty, and making repairs below the standard agreed to in writing. However, included in the list is a “catchall” provision which encompasses “any other fraudulent or deceptive conduct which creates a likelihood of confusion or misunderstanding”. Accordingly, if you feel you’ve been “ripped off” in a consumer transaction, you may want to consult an attorney about bringing a case under the Pennsylvania Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law.

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