False & Misleading Advertising
New York law protects consumers from false advertising. You have a right to receive truthful information about products and services. False advertising is any advertising that is misleading in any significant way. This includes any statements or pictures about the product. It also includes failure to disclose certain information about the product or service.
False advertising is usually related to price, quality or purpose. The seller may give you incorrect information about the product or service you are buying. The “bait and switch” is a common form of false advertising. The seller advertises a particular product or service at a particular price. But when you get to the store, the seller tries to sell you a different product or service at a higher price.
Sellers can engage in “puffery.” This means using exaggerations or hyperbole, such as saying, “World’s Best Pizza.” Puffery is different from making factually false claims. But dishonesty is not permitted. Especially about things the consumer cannot verify, like the ingredients in a product.
If you are a victim of false advertising, you can file a lawsuit against the seller. You can recover any actual damages you suffered or $500, whichever is greater. You can also get your attorney’s fees paid by the seller if you win the lawsuit. If the court finds that the seller willfully and knowingly violated the law, you may get extra damages. The court may award three times your actual damages, up to $10,000. To succeed, you will need to show that you relied on the false advertising. You must bring your lawsuit within three years of the date of injury from the false advertising.
The NYS Attorney General can also sue any person or company engaging in false advertising.
Legal Editors: Mark Grossman, Esq. and C. Jaye Berger, Esq., May 2018
Changes may occur in this area of law. The information provided is brought to you as a public service with the help and assistance of volunteer legal editors, and is intended to help you better understand the law in general. It is not intended to be legal advice regarding your particular problem or to substitute for the advice of a lawyer.