Many Utah residents fall victim to scams each year, including such things as false advertising, odometer tampering, and other intentional acts meant to defraud consumers. While the state has not adopted the Uniform Deceptive Trade Practices Act, Utah does have a few laws to protect consumers who fall victim to fraudulent schemes.
False advertising prohibited
Intentionally misleading consumers through false advertising is against the law in Utah. Companies are prohibited from making false statements intentionally in any type of advertisement designed to induce people to purchase their products. If a company falsely advertises products, either the state or a consumer can file a lawsuit against the company under the Utah deceptive trade practices laws. If the court finds that the company engaged in false advertising, the following remedies might be ordered:
- Declaratory judgment
- $2,000 or actual damages, whichever is more
- Attorney’s fees and costs
Odometer tampering illegal
Odometer tampering is a crime in Utah. Auto dealers who tamper with odometers to make it appear that the vehicles have lower miles can be charged with third-degree felony offenses. The potential penalties for a third-degree felony odometer tampering conviction include up to five years in prison, a fine of up to $5,000, or both imprisonment and a fine. It is also illegal to sell any instruments that can be used to change odometer readings in vehicles, which is a class B misdemeanor carrying up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.
Utah’s deceptive trade practices laws are meant to protect consumers against fraud. When people discover that they have been the victim of false advertising or other types of deceptive practices, they should report what happened to them to the authorities. People can get more information about remedies for deceptive trade practices from the Division on Consumer Protection with the Utah Department of Commerce.