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What Is False Advertising?

Every kind of advertising provides data to inform consumers of what they are buying. However, advertisements may be manipulated in order to deceive consumers of the product they are purchasing. Such advertising is referred to as false advertising or deceptive advertising.

Many businesses lure consumers into a false sense of security by advertising wrong information, or information that is lacking. Thus, consumers believe that they are benefiting greatly if entering a transaction with a business that uses false advertising. A commonly used form of false advertising involves inflated price comparison. The consumer is led to believe that he or she is purchasing a product at a discounted price compared to the retail price that is advertised. However, in actuality, the retail price advertised has been inflated or other products that are associated with the purchased product may be inflated and the consumer is essentially buying the product for its intended, original price.

The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has the power to regulate any false claims made by businesses. The FTC can step in even if the advertisement has a potential to mislead. Thus, the false advertisement is not limited to actual misleading or deception in words or pictures. If the advertisement can suggest a claim that it cannot prove to be true, then it is still false advertising. As long as the advertisement has the potential to or really does mislead or misinform consumers about the product, the FTC can investigate claims of false advertising. A consumer needs only to file such a claim at the FTC in order for a business to be investigated.

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