Tennessee Deceptive Trade Practices Laws
Tennessee has not adopted the Uniform Deceptive Trade Practices Act. The state deals with deceptive trade practices under the Consumer Protection Act (“Act”), provided in Title 47, Chapter 18 of the Tennessee Code. Section 47-18-104 of the Act prohibits unfair or deceptive practices, which includes false and fraudulent advertising, in the state. According to this Section and Section 39-14-127 of the Tennessee Code, unfair or deceptive practices are Class B misdemeanors and therefore unlawful.
Pursuant to Section 47-18-108, Attorney General, upon the request of the division of consumer affairs in the department of commerce and insurance, may bring an action in the name of the state against any person who has engaged in, is engaging in, or is about to engage in any unlawful deceptive act or practice. Such an action may be brought to restrain such acts or practices by temporary restraining order, temporary injunction, or permanent injunction.
Court shall award reasonable costs to the state if any permanent injunction issued by it has become final. The court may also make restitution orders for any person who has suffered any ascertainable loss from such acts or practices. Willful and persistent violations of the Act will be punishable by temporary or permanent orders revoking a license or certificate for conducting business in Tennessee. Court may also impose a civil penalty not exceeding $1000 per violation. Additionally, Court may also order reimbursement of reasonable costs and expenses of investigation and prosecution, including attorney fees, to the state. Willful violation of the terms of an injunction or order of a court pursuant to this Act will be punishable by a civil penalty not exceeding $2000 per violation.
By the authority of Section 47-18-109, any person who has suffered an ascertainable loss of money or property, from unlawful deceptive acts or practices of another, may bring an action to recover actual damages. The court may award three times the actual damages sustained if it finds that the use or engagement of such act or practice was willful. The Attorney General may bring any appropriate action or proceeding in any court of competent jurisdiction pursuant to Section 47-18-114.
Section 47-18-104 of the Act classifies tampering with an odometer as a deceptive practice, and therefore a Class B misdemeanor. Misrepresenting the mileage on a used motor vehicle, offered for sale, trade-in or exchange, by changing its mileage registering instrument with the intent to show a lesser mileage reading than that actually recorded by the instrument is prohibited by Section 39-14-132 of the Tennessee Code.
Tenn. Code Ann. § 47-18-104
Unfair or deceptive acts prohibited. [Amended effective July 1, 2010. See the Compiler's Notes.]
(a) Unfair or deceptive acts or practices affecting the conduct of any trade or commerce constitute unlawful acts or practices and are Class B misdemeanors.
(b) Without limiting the scope of subsection (a), the following unfair or deceptive acts or practices affecting the conduct of any trade or commerce are declared to be unlawful and in violation of this part:
(9) Advertising goods or services with intent not to sell them as advertised;
(10) Advertising goods or services with intent not to supply reasonably expectable public demand, unless the advertisement discloses a limitation of quantity;
(16) Disconnecting, turning back, or resetting the odometer of any motor vehicle so as to reduce the number of miles indicated on the odometer gauge, except as provided for in § 39-14-132(b);
Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-14-127
Deceptive business practices.
(a) A person commits an offense who, with intent to deceive, in the course of business:
(5) Makes a false or misleading statement in any advertisements addressed to the public or to a substantial segment thereof for the purposes of promoting the purchase or sale of property or services;
(6) Makes false or deceptive representations in any advertisement or solicitation for services or products that those services or products have sponsorship, approval, affiliation or connection with a bank, savings and loan association, savings bank or subsidiary or affiliate thereof; or
(c) Deceptive business practices is a Class B misdemeanor.
Tenn. Code Ann. § 47-18-108
Restraining orders or injunctions — Penalty for violation.
(a) (1) Whenever the division has reason to believe that any person has engaged in, is engaging in, or, based upon information received from another law enforcement agency, is about to engage in any act or practice declared unlawful by this part and that proceedings would be in the public interest, the attorney general and reporter, at the request of the division, may bring an action in the name of the state against such person to restrain by temporary restraining order, temporary injunction, or permanent injunction the use of such act or practice.
(5) Whenever any permanent injunction is issued by a court in connection with any action which has become final, reasonable costs shall be awarded to the state.
(b) (1) The court may make such orders or render such judgments as may be necessary to restore to any person who has suffered any ascertainable loss by reason of the use or employment of such unlawful method, act, or practice, any money or property, real, personal, or mixed, or any other article, commodity, or thing of value wherever situated, which may have been acquired by means of any act or practice declared to be unlawful by this part.
(2) The court may also enter an order temporarily or permanently revoking a license or certificate authorizing that person to engage in business in this state, if evidence has been presented to the court establishing knowing and persistent violations of this part.
(3) The court may also order payment to the state of a civil penalty of not more than one thousand dollars ($1,000) for each violation.
(4) The court may also order reimbursement to the state for the reasonable costs and expenses of investigation and prosecution of actions under this part, including attorneys’ fees.
(c) Any knowing violation of the terms of an injunction or order issued pursuant to subsection (a) or (b) shall be punishable by a civil penalty of not more than two thousand dollars ($2,000), recoverable by the state for each violation, in addition to any other appropriate relief.
Tenn. Code Ann. § 47-18-109
Private right of action — Damages — Notice to division.
(a) (1) Any person who suffers an ascertainable loss of money or property, real, personal, or mixed, or any other article, commodity, or thing of value wherever situated, as a result of the use or employment by another person of an unfair or deceptive act or practice declared to be unlawful by this part, may bring an action individually to recover actual damages.
(3) If the court finds that the use or employment of the unfair or deceptive act or practice was a willful or knowing violation of this part, the court may award three (3) times the actual damages sustained and may provide such other relief as it considers necessary and proper.
Tenn. Code Ann. § 47-18-114
Powers of attorney general.
The attorney general and reporter, at the request of the division, may bring any appropriate action or proceeding in any court of competent jurisdiction pursuant to the provisions of this part.
Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-14-132
Misrepresentation of mileage on used motor vehicle odometer.
(a) No person or agent of any person shall misrepresent the mileage on a used motor vehicle which is offered for sale, trade-in or exchange by changing the mileage registering instrument of a used motor vehicle so as to show a lesser mileage reading than that recorded by the instrument; provided, that this shall not be construed to prevent the service, repair or replacement of the mileage registering instrument, which, by reason of normal use, wear or through damage, requires service, repair or replacement.
(c) A violation of this section is a Class A misdemeanor.