False or Misleading Advertising

False or Misleading Advertising

Columbus False Advertising Attorneys

Consumers can suffer great harm from believing false or misleading advertisements. In fact, taking a dietary supplement for weight loss that is marketed as “100 percent natural” can cause a person’s death if the product actually contains a prescription medication that increases users’ blood pressure and heart rate. Less dramatic, but still significant, damage could occur if a person who buys that same counterfeit and mislabeled product stops taking other measures to improve his or her health. The most likely outcome is that the money spent gets wasted and no pounds get shed. That still represents a negative outcome that can be blamed on deceptive business practices.

Federal and state regulators attempt to monitor advertising practices to keep companies and service providers honest. Professional organizations also publish guidelines on how ads should be produced and placed in order to convey factual and helpful information while reaching appropriate audiences. However, regulators lack the resources to monitor all advertisements and guidelines are often ignored by advertisers. When these safeguards fail, people fall victim to false and misleading advertising. It happens more often than you know and when regulators fail to timely stop false advertisements individuals who lose money, get injured, or die, have ready champions in the Columbus false advertising lawyers with Leist Warner.


Federal Watchdogs Have Special Areas of Concerns

The Federal Trade Commission, which has responsibility for enforcing most national consumer protection laws, maintains a Division of Advertising Practices and an invaluable Truth in Advertising resources page. The agency cannot view every TV spot and review each newspaper insert, though, so it focuses on the following types of advertisements:

  • Alcohol and Tobacco Products, keeping an eye out for messages that target teens and which neglect to mention the dangers of smoking and drinking to excess.
  • Drugs and Health Products, including the sale of prescription medications and contact lenses over the internet, but especially ensuring that all health claims can be supported with strong scientific evidence.
  • Fitness, making sure that every promise of “unbelievable results” is accompanied by a disclaimer admitting that the results outed are not typical.
  • Funeral Services, with an emphasis on ensuring that all charges are disclosed and agreed to by family members, and also that no high-pressure sales tactics are employed.
  • Gift Cards, ensuring that purchasers and recipients know about user fees and reductions in value after long periods of nonuse.
  • Green Products, with an eye toward ensuring that buzzwords like “natural,” “safe for the environment,” and “pet-safe” actually mean something.


Even with such limited focus, the Federal Trade Commission cannot possibly prevent or timely stop every false advertisement, even in these limited areas of advertisement.


What Constitutes Deception in Ohio

Ohio’s state law regarding false and misleading advertising is found primarily in Ohio Revised Code Section 4165: Deceptive Trade Practices. Ohio’s Deceptive Trade Practices statute boils down to prohibiting the sale of counterfeit products and lying about the price, quality, and nature of a good or service. Key provisions, quoted directly from the first section of the law and with emphases added, include:

A person engages in a deceptive trade practice when, in the course of the person’s business, vocation, or occupation, the person does any of the following:

(1) Passes off goods or services as those of another;

(2) Causes likelihood of confusion or misunderstanding as to the source, sponsorship, approval, or certification of goods or services; …

(4) Uses deceptive representations or designations of geographic origin in connection with goods or services;

(5) Lists a fictitious business name in a local telephone directory …

(7) Represents that goods or services have sponsorship, approval, characteristics, ingredients, uses, benefits, or quantities that they do not have or that a person has a sponsorship, approval, status, affiliation, or connection that the person does not have;

(8) Represents that goods are original or new if they are deteriorated, altered, reconditioned, reclaimed, used, or secondhand;

(9) Represents that goods or services are of a particular standard, quality, or grade, or that goods are of a particular style or model, if they are of another;

(10) Disparages the goods, services, or business of another by false representation of fact;

(11) Advertises goods or services with intent not to sell them as advertised;

(12) Makes false statements of fact concerning the reasons for, existence of, or amounts of price reductions;

(13) Advertises goods or services with intent not to supply reasonably expectable public demand, unless the advertisement discloses a limitation of quantity.


Ask a Columbus, Ohio, Consumer Law Attorney About Your False Advertising Case

If you or a family member suffered because a business or service provider misrepresented their products or qualifications, you should speak with a civil litigation lawyer in Columbus, Ohio. Criminal convictions for violating consumer protection laws are rare, and no matter how deserved a jail term would be, it delivers no compensation to an actual victim.

The consumer litigation attorneys with Leist Warner have many years of experience making companies and salespeople pay for their false and misleading advertising practices. Attorneys at Leist Warner have more than 20 years of representing consumers and have recovered millions of dollars for consumers. We offer no-cost case consultations, so even if we are unable to take you on as client, we can answer your questions and point you toward other sources of assistance. Call (614) 222-1000 today, or reach out to us online.

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