Unfair & Deceptive Trade Practices

Although most businesses deal fairly and honestly with the public, there are a few dishonest companies that seek to take advantage of their customers. While the North Carolina courts have created many remedies for injured consumers, such as claims for fraud or negligent misrepresentation, these “common law” remedies often can be inadequate. Consequently, the N.C. General Assembly has enacted many laws designed to protect consumers.

For example, North Carolina’s version of the Uniform Commercial Code protects buyers of goods. The UCC establishes a comprehensive scheme for dealing with disputes regarding the buying and selling of goods. North Carolina’s lemon law protects car buyers from vehicles that are constantly out of commission due to problems that substantially affect the usefulness of the vehicle. The General Assembly has adopted statutes requiring insurance companies to deal in good faith when settling claims with their customers. There are many other such consumer-friendly laws on the books.

The General Assembly has also enacted a broad, powerful statute prohibiting unfair and deceptive trade practices. This law creates a private cause of action for anyone injured by an unfair or deceptive act or practice in the conduct of any trade or commerce. A practice is unfair if it offends established public policy or is immoral, unethical, oppressive, unscrupulous, or substantially harmful to consumers. A practice is considered deceptive if it has the capacity or tendency to deceive the average consumer’s proof of actual deception is not required. An injured consumer who prevails in a lawsuit under this statute is automatically entitled to triple his or her actual damages and may also recover attorney’s fees.

Consumer fraud is a very serious issue, and many duped consumers are too humiliated to come forward and complain. Only by taking action, however, will the dishonest business be held accountable for its actions and hopefully deterred from harming other consumers in the future. If you believe you have been the victim of consumer fraud, Hodges Coxe & Potter LLP has the knowledge and experience to aggressively litigate claims against unscrupulous companies and help vindicate your consumer rights.

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Unfair & Deceptive Trade Practices