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What are deceptive trade practices?

You likely understand that competition within your company's service space can be strong (even to the point of being considered "harsh" or "cutthroat"). Yet while that may be expected to a certain degree, there is a limit to the extent that a competitor can attempt to negatively influence your business. Some might hear the term "deceptive trade practices" and think that any practice that pulls their customers away is deceptive. Fortunately, New Jersey state law has eliminated the potential for any misinterpretation by clearly defining what it considers deceptive trade practices to be. 

When addressing this issue, the state identifies two distinct forms of deceptive practices. The first is false and/or misleading advertising. Section 56.8-2 of New Jersey's state statutes forbids the following to be made in connection with either the sale of merchandise or real estate, or the performance of services: 

  • Unconscionable commercial practices
  • Deception
  • Fraud
  • False pretenses or promises
  • Misrepresentation 
  • The knowing suppression, concealment or omission or material facts

A consumer does not need to be hurt or otherwise injured in any way for a business to be cited for false advertising; rather, you simply showing that such practices have happened may be enough for you to seek injunctive relief from the further use of them. Keep in mind that action against such practices can only be targeted at the organization perpetuating them. Media outlets used for the purpose of false advertising are typically immune from liability. 

The second recognized form of deceptive trade practices is odometer tampering. It is a criminal offense in the state to alter or disconnect a vehicle odometer to give the impression that it has less mileage in order to facilitate a sale. 

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