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What are deceptive trade practices?

Texas passed the Deceptive Trade Practices Act (DPTA) in 1973. Its main goal is protecting consumers against false, misleading and deceptive business practices. It can involve unconscionable actions that (intended or not) mislead or deceive the consumer.

Some common examples

The DTPA is broadly applicable. It can involve enforcement by the Texas Attorney General, yet it also empowers private citizens can seek damages for certain acts or practices. Examples encountered by consumers are:

  • Goods are represented as new when they are resold
  • Describing goods as authentic when they are counterfeit
  • Advertising goods or services at a price the seller has no intention of honoring
  • Tampering with a vehicle’s odometer
  • Bad faith insurance claims
  • Representing goods as certified, approved or sponsored
  • Knowingly making false statements regarding replacement or repair of goods
  • Deliberately omitting information about a property to make a sale

What to do if facing charges

Businesses, often small or independent ones, may not even realize that they violated the DPTA. It can be because they bought products from a wholesaler under the impression that they were authentic, or it can be an instance where a rogue employee employs fraudulent sales practices. It is unlikely that the business or owner will face severe penalties in these circumstances, but there may be additional fines and loss of expected revenue.

The penalties

The attorney general, district attorneys or private citizens can sue for violations. The penalties include actual or treble (triple the amount) damages or compensation to the plaintiff (penalties are higher if elderly consumers were deceived). It also forces the seller to discontinue their deceptive practice. Those with questions about a specific issue may wish to speak with an attorney who handles these legal issues.