False advertising may not seem like a huge deal to you, until you find that some company has taken advantage of your rights and swindled you out of your hard-earned money. Many companies are more than happy to lead you to believe something that is not true if it will help them achieve more sales and revenue.
There are many rules in place in the United States, enforced by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and private attorneys, that forbid and regulate false advertising. As a consumer, you have a right to be aware of what you are purchasing and to not be misled into purchasing something you otherwise would have avoided.
There are several strategies you can use to spot and avoid false advertising. Here’s what to watch out for and how to protect yourself from becoming a victim of illegal or immoral advertising practices:
Looks too good to be true
If an advertisement looks too good to be true, it almost always is. Many advertisements will present one aspect of a deal without disclosing a major catch or loophole. If you see a deal or product advertised that is an incredible bargain, make sure you dig further and ask questions before accepting it.
Don’t take it at face value
As we just mentioned, advertisements do a great job of including the good aspects of a deal and excluding the negative ones. Never take an advertisement at face value. Look for hidden information like exclusions or restrictions that might be listed in the fine print. Asterisks or footnotes are also clever ways advertisers try to hide information and mislead consumers.
Pictures and Description should match the product you receive
Images shown in an advertisement, the description and any specifications should match the actual product or service that you actually receive. If these two do not match up, then there is likely some sort of misleading or false advertising going on. Perhaps they are showing the actual product in the image that you will get, or perhaps the product described in the advertisement is not as good as it sounds so they are trying to make it look better with an image of a better product. If the explanation and the pictures don’t match up, that’s a big red flag.
“Free” usually isn’t free
Similar to our point about ads that are too good to be true, if an advertisement mentions free products then there is a good chance they are trying to mislead you about something else. There could be conditions or hidden costs that you will need to be aware of. Claims of “free” are almost never actually free, or they are meant to distract you and trick you into spending more money elsewhere.
Business avoids questions
No trustworthy business will object to you asking questions about their advertisements. If you try to ask questions about advertised products or deals, and the business deflects or avoids the question altogether, they are probably hiding something. You have a right to know all the details about your potential purchase, so ask questions and make sure you get straight answers.
Don’t fall victim to false advertising techniques. Be vigilant and educate yourself as a consumer. Watch for red flags, and give us a call if you suspect any product or service wrongdoing.