Companies use all sorts of advertising tactics to draw consumers to their products. Often, these include exaggerated claims. However, they do not automatically constitute false advertising. They must meet specific criteria to be illegal.
If you suspect you are a victim of false advertising, it is wise to double-check that you understand its true meaning. For further clarification about your specific situation, speak to an attorney.
The Federal Trade Commission enforces the rules concerning advertising practices. The foundation of the law is that ads must contain the truth. This means that is not only outright deception illegal, but also misleading viewers is not permissible. When relevant, scientific evidence should support claims of benefits.
The FTC reviews health products and expensive goods the most as these have the most significant effects on users. Sometimes the difference between acceptable and unacceptable advertising comes down to simple wording, as in the case of the popular cereal Cheerios.
Examples of false advertising
Most often, false advertising entails making promises without supplying substantial proof that they are correct, such as claiming that products can do the following:
- Combat diseases
- Lead to a specific numerical result
- Increase cognitive ability
- Improve looks
Other actions include lying about performance, materials, ingredients and safety standards. Even retailers inflating the prices of these products falls under this category.
Why the truth matters
It can be easy to understand why the truth matters when the product is something you ingest, whether it be food, a dietary supplement or over-the-counter medicine. Your health is at risk. However, even if you do not receive any injury, the deception hurts your wallet no matter what the product.
Companies should not trick you into spending money on things that do not deliver on their promises. Of course, you can choose to buy a particular product only because you like it, but when you are basing your purchasing decision on supposed benefits, truth in advertising is a must for you to make an informed choice on where you want your money to go.