Skip to content Skip to sidebar Skip to footer

Widget HTML #1


How To Report False Advertising With Easy - Easy How To Report False Advertising - False advertising misleads customers. When a company promises that its product will do something but doesn't deliver on that promise, then it has engaged in false advertising. Similarly, when a company falsely claims that a product is “on sale,” then it, too, has engaged in false advertising. To report false advertising, you need to gather evidence of the advertising and then find the appropriate government agency to report to. Once you have reported the advertising, you can then consider suing the company.

Preparing to Report

How to Report False Advertising - Getting Evidence & Who to Contact

Identify false advertising. False advertising can take many forms. Billboards, TV commercials, and web pop-ups can all be false or misleading. False advertising often involves claims about the health, safety, effectiveness, or cost of goods or services. To quickly check whether the advertising was illegal, see if you can answer "yes" to all three questions:

Did the ad promise the viewer something?

Would a "reasonable consumer" be misled by the claim?

Was the promise something a consumer would find important (that is, was it material to their decision to buy?)

How to Report False Advertising - Getting Evidence & Who to Contact

Get evidence. You should try to hold onto evidence of the false advertising. If the advertisement was printed (in a magazine or newspaper), then cut it out. Alternately, you can preserve TV advertisements if you have recorded them.

If you can't retrieve a pop-up ad, for example, then write down your memory of its contents. Although this is not as ideal as having the pop-up to show to someone, it is the best that you can do.

How to Report False Advertising - Getting Evidence & Who to Contact

Contact the company for a refund. You can always contact the company and ask for a refund. Call the company (or stop in and visit). You will need your receipt, to either show the sales clerk or to reference when calling. To find a phone number, visit the company's website and look for a contact.

If the first person you talk to can't help, then request to be connected to a supervisor. Always remain polite yet insistent. Tell whoever you speak to that the product does not work as advertised and that you want a refund.

Even if you speak to someone on the phone, you should also send a letter. Send it certified mail, return receipt requested so that you will have evidence that it has been received.

If you don't know what to write, you can use the Federal Trade Commission's sample complaint letter, which is available at

For additional advice on how to get a refund, see Protest and Complain to Receive a Refund.

How to Report False Advertising - Getting Evidence & Who to Contact

Preserve communications. If the company responds back in writing, then hold onto the letter. Also hold onto copies of any letters that you send the company. Staple the signed return receipt to your copy of the letter.

If you talk to someone on the phone, then write down their name and the time of the call. Also summarize the substance of your conversation.

Reporting False Advertising

How to Report False Advertising - Getting Evidence & Who to Contact

Find the appropriate federal agency. No single federal agency collects all complaints for false advertising. Instead, you must contact specific federal agencies depending on the type of business you are complaining about. For example, to complain about an airline's false advertising, then you would need to contact the U.S. Department of Transportation.

By contrast, if you want to report false advertising engaged in by the makers of dietary supplements, then you will need to contact the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

The Truth in Advertising website contains a list of industries and links to the appropriate federal agency you should complain to.

How to Report False Advertising - Getting Evidence & Who to Contact

Report the advertising to a federal agency. Each agency will ask for different information. You should be prepared to identify the name and location of the company as well as what was false or deceptive about the advertisement.

If you need to report to the FTC, then visit its website at and click on "File a Consumer Complaint." You will be taken to the FTC's complaint assistant.

At the assistant, you should select a Category. Most false advertising complaints will fall under "Other." Click on that category.

You can then click on the relevant sub-category. To report false advertising in relation to automobiles, then click on that subcategory. If you don't know what subcategory to select, then choose "No Match Found."

The complaint assistant will walk you through a series of questions. Provide the information that is applicable. For example, you will be asked how much you paid the company, the method of payment, and the name of any company representative you have contacted.

If you need to ask questions, you can contact technical support via chat. You can chat between Monday and Friday, 9:00 am to 8:00 pm Eastern Standard Time.

How to Report False Advertising - Getting Evidence & Who to Contact

Find your state agency. Every state has an agency that investigates reports of false advertising. In most states, that agency is the Attorney General's Office or a Bureau of Consumer Protection. Many cities also have agencies that investigate allegations of false advertising.

To find your applicable agency, type "false advertising" or "consumer protection" with your state or city into your favorite web browser.

The Truth in Advertising website also maintains a listing of state resources, complete with links. You can find this information on their website; search "state-by-state" once at the homepage.

How to Report False Advertising - Getting Evidence & Who to Contact

Report to your state or city trade commission. You will need much of the same information that you will need when reporting to a federal agency: the name and location of the business as well as the nature of the false advertising (why is it false?). In New York City, you can report false advertising to the Consumer Assistance division at

At the New York City website, you must select the category of business that engaged in the false advertising, e.g., gas station, grocery store, parking garage, etc.

Provide the "what, where, and who." In other words, provide details about the false advertising, state the location where it occurred, and then identify the name of the business.

Be sure to have a copy of the advertisement that you can send to the agency.

How to Report False Advertising - Getting Evidence & Who to Contact

Report to the Better Business Bureau (BBB). The BBB was created to collect complaints about false or deceptive advertising. After you file a complaint, BBB will reach out to the business for a response. To contact the BBB, you can visit their website and then type your city and state or your postal code.

You can then click on "File a Complaint."

You will need to answer a series of questions about the business and about yourself. For example, you will be asked whether you are a citizen of the U.S. or Canada and if you are in the military.

Select "Your complaint involved a: business's advertising" to complain about the false advertising. Then select the business and provide all relevant details about your complaint.

How to Report False Advertising - Getting Evidence & Who to Contact

Contact Truth in Advertising, Inc. The (TINA) website collects information about false and deceptive marketing. You can either file a complaint online or download a complaint form. Once you have completed your form, you can send it to TINA in one of two ways:

You can fax the completed form to (203) 421-6211.

Also, you can mail the form to Truth in Advertising, Inc., P.O. Box 927, Madison, CT 06443.

Deciding Whether to Sue for False Advertising

How to Report False Advertising - Getting Evidence & Who to Contact

Decide if it is worth suing. When a company refuses to refund the cost of the goods or services, then you might want to consider bringing a lawsuit. If you sue, you can generally only recover the amount of money that you lost because of the false advertising. Often, this is only the cost of the product or service that you paid for. When you paid $50 for a clock, then you might not think it is worth your time to bring a lawsuit in order to recover $50.

There are exceptions. For example, some states grant consumers the power to seek "punitive damages." Punitive damages are above and beyond the economic loss you suffered and are designed to punish the defendant. Not all states allow punitive damages for false advertising claims. But when a state does, then you might want to bring a lawsuit.

Furthermore, you might be able to recover for consequential damages caused by the false advertising. For example, if you purchased an over-the-counter medicine but then suffered severe complications from using it, then you could recover for medical bills and any loss of quality of life. This could run into the tens of thousands of dollars and would make a lawsuit worthwhile.

How to Report False Advertising - Getting Evidence & Who to Contact

Look for a class action. Many false advertising cases are brought as class actions. A class action allows people who have claims for small dollar amounts to pool together and sue a defendant. Often, the attorneys representing the class work on contingency and take a portion (around 40%) of the money awarded to the class.

You can search for class actions that are ongoing. Also, some class actions have settled and you will be able to seek reimbursement if you qualify.

For more information on how to find class actions, you can see Find a List of Class Action Lawsuits.

How to Report False Advertising - Getting Evidence & Who to Contact

Contact a lawyer. Only a lawyer can advise you on the details of your state law and whether or not a lawsuit is feasible. The lawyer could direct you to a current class action lawsuit to join. Or the lawyer can review the extent of your damages and recommend that you bring an individual lawsuit.

To find a consumer protection attorney, you should contact your state's bar association. Most states run lawyer referral programs. You can request the name of a lawyer who has handled false advertising claims before. You can then set up a consultation where you can discuss the merits of your lawsuit.

Some states allow consumers to recover attorneys' fees if they win the lawsuit. This might make an individual lawsuit even more attractive. If you win, then you won't even have to pay for your lawyer.

Post a Comment for "How To Report False Advertising With Easy"