North Carolina Deceptive Trade Practices Laws

Laws relating to deceptive trade practices in the State of North Carolina are dealt under Chapter 75 (Monopolies, Trusts and Consumer Protection), Article 1, Section 75-1 et seq. of General Statutes of North Carolina.  According to Section 75-1.1, it is unlawful for any person, firm or corporation to practice any unfair methods of competition or deceptive acts or practices in North Carolina.  Again, as enumerated in Section 75-29, no person, firm or corporation shall advertise the sale of its merchandise using the term “wholesale”.

Pursuant to Section 75-15.2, an Attorney General can institute an action against a person if s/he violates any of the provisions of this Chapter.  Any person, who has been injured by reason of an act done by any other person, firm or corporation in violation of the provisions of this Chapter, can initiate a civil action to recover damages under Section 75-16.

The court can in its discretion, pursuant to Section 75-15.2, impose a civil penalty not exceeding $5000 for each violation.  By virtue of Section 75-16, any person injured by an unlawful act done by any other person, firm or corporation under this Chapter is entitled to get a judgment for treble the amount fixed by the verdict.  Furthermore, according to Section 75-16.1, the party can also recover reasonable attorney fees.

According to Vehicle Mileage Act Section 20-343, it is unlawful for any person or his /her agents to disconnect, reset, or alter the odometer of any vehicle with the intent to change the number of miles indicated.

N.C. Gen. Stat. § 75-1.1

Methods of competition, acts and practices regulated; legislative policy
(a) Unfair methods of competition in or affecting commerce, and unfair or deceptive acts or practices in or affecting commerce, are declared unlawful.
(b) For purposes of this section, “commerce” includes all business activities, however denominated, but does not include professional services rendered by a member of a learned profession.
(c) Nothing in this section shall apply to acts done by the publisher, owner, agent, or employee of a newspaper, periodical or radio or television station, or other advertising medium in the publication or dissemination of an advertisement, when the owner, agent or employee did not have knowledge of the false, misleading or deceptive character of the advertisement and when the newspaper, periodical or radio or television station, or other advertising medium did not have a direct financial interest in the sale or distribution of the advertised product or service.
(d) Any party claiming to be exempt from the provisions of this section shall have the burden of proof with respect to such claim.

N.C. Gen. Stat. § 75-29

Unfair and deceptive trade names; use of term “wholesale” in advertising, etc
(a) No person, firm or corporation shall advertise the sale of its merchandise using the term “wholesale” with regard to its sale prices, except as such word may appear in the company or firm name, unless such advertised sale or sales is, or are, to a customer or customers having a certificate of resale issued pursuant to G.S. 105-164.28 and recorded as required by G.S. 105-164.25 or unless the wholesale price is established by an independent agency not engaged in the manufacture, distribution or sale of such merchandise.
No person, firm or corporation shall utilize in any commercial transaction a company or firm name which contains the word “wholesale” unless such person, firm or corporation is engaged principally in sales at wholesale as defined in G.S. 105-164.3. For the purposes of determining whether sales are made principally at wholesale or retail, all sales to employees of any such person, firm or corporation, all sales to organizations subject to refunds pursuant to G.S. 105-164.14, and all exempt sales pursuant to G.S. 105-164.13 shall be considered sales at wholesale. Sales of merchandise for delivery by the seller to the purchaser at a location other than the seller’s place of business shall be considered sales at wholesale for the purposes of this section.
(b) The violation of any provision of this section shall be considered an unfair trade practice, as prohibited by G.S. 75-1.1.
(c) This section shall not apply to the sales of farm products, fertilizers, insecticides, pesticides or petroleum.

N.C. Gen. Stat. § 75-15.2

Civil penalty
In any suit instituted by the Attorney General, in which the defendant is found to have violated G.S. 75-1.1 and the acts or practices which constituted the violation were, when committed, knowingly violative of a statute, the court may, in its discretion, impose a civil penalty against the defendant of up to five thousand dollars ($ 5,000) for each violation. In any action brought by the Attorney General pursuant to this Chapter in which it is shown that an action or practice when committed was specifically prohibited by a court order, the Court may, in its discretion, impose a civil penalty of up to five thousand dollars ($ 5,000) for each violation. Civil penalties may be imposed in a new action or by motion in an earlier action, whether or not such earlier action has been concluded. In determining the amount of the civil penalty, the court shall consider all relevant circumstances, including, but not limited to, the extent of the harm caused by the conduct constituting a violation, the nature and persistence of such conduct, the length of time over which the conduct occurred, the assets, liabilities, and net worth of the person, whether corporate or individual, and any corrective action taken by the defendant. The clear proceeds of penalties so assessed shall be remitted to the Civil Penalty and Forfeiture Fund in accordance with G.S. 115C-457.2.

N.C. Gen. Stat. § 75-16

Civil action by person injured; treble damages
If any person shall be injured or the business of any person, firm or corporation shall be broken up, destroyed or injured by reason of any act or thing done by any other person, firm or corporation in violation of the provisions of this Chapter, such person, firm or corporation so injured shall have a right of action on account of such injury done, and if damages are assessed in such case judgment shall be rendered in favor of the plaintiff and against the defendant for treble the amount fixed by the verdict.

N.C. Gen. Stat. § 75-16.1

Attorney fee
In any suit instituted by a person who alleges that the defendant violated G.S. 75-1.1, the presiding judge may, in his discretion, allow a reasonable attorney fee to the duly licensed attorney representing the prevailing party, such attorney fee to be taxed as a part of the court costs and payable by the losing party, upon a finding by the presiding judge that:
(1) The party charged with the violation has willfully engaged in the act or practice, and there was an unwarranted refusal by such party to fully resolve the matter which constitutes the basis of such suit; or
(2) The party instituting the action knew, or should have known, the action was frivolous and malicious.

N.C. Gen. Stat. § 20-343

Unlawful change of mileage
It is unlawful for any person or his agent to disconnect, reset, or alter the odometer of any motor vehicle with the intent to change the number of miles indicated thereon. Whenever evidence shall be presented in any court of the fact that an odometer has been reset or altered to change the number of miles indicated thereon, it shall be prima facie evidence in any court in the State of North Carolina that the resetting or alteration was made by the person, firm or corporation who held title or by law was required to hold title to the vehicle in which the reset or altered odometer was installed at the time of such resetting or alteration or if such person has more than 20 employees and has specifically and in writing delegated responsibility for the motor vehicle to an agent, that the resetting or alteration was made by the agent.


Inside North Carolina Deceptive Trade Practices Laws