How Missouri law treats deceptive business practices

While legislators in Missouri have chosen not to adopt the Uniform Deceptive Trade Practices Act, they have passed a number of laws designed to protect consumers from misleading, deceptive or otherwise unfair business practices. Missouri residents who have suffered a financial loss due to the deceptive practices of a business may initiate a civil lawsuit against that company, and they could also file a complaint with the state’s attorney general.

The Missouri Merchandising Practices Act of 1967 sets strict rules in place for companies such as car dealers, credit repair services and rent-to-own businesses. Businesses in Missouri can face severe penalties for violating these rules including punitive damages, injunctions, civil sanctions and fines. Injunctions are sought to compel businesses to cease their misleading or unfair practices, and punitive damages may be awarded partly to deter other companies from behaving in the same way.

The Missouri consumer protection laws forbid car dealers from tampering with vehicle odometers and require charities to disclose how their funds are raised and how they are spent. The laws also make some types of fraudulent advertising criminal acts and prevent certain businesses from requiring customers to waive their legal rights. There are also restrictions placed on businesses like health clubs and gyms that ask their customers to sign long-term contracts.

Reputation in the business world can be difficult to earn and easy to tarnish. Businesses who misrepresent their product or service or mislead their customers may face criminal as well as civil sanctions, and attorneys with experience in this area would likely advise them that the risks of such behavior far outweigh any possible commercial benefits. Attorneys may also initiate business litigation on behalf of their clients in situations where a competitor is making false or misleading statements about them.

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