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Some Consumer Protection Laws in Minnesota 

Minn. Stat. §§ 325F.67: What Is It?

Minnesota Statutes Chapter 325F, Section 67 is called the False Statement in Advertisement Act (“FSAA”) and it specifically regulates business actions relating to advertisements. The FSAA grants the Attorney General and county attorneys the right to prosecute businesses that violate this law.

What is prohibited?

According to the FSAA, businesses are prohibited from using any method of advertising for a good or service which contains untrue, deceptive, or misleading statements or representations.

 Who does the law apply to and how can consumers sue?

The law applies to any business or employee that advertises goods or services to the public. A civil plaintiff may file a claim under the FSAA against an offending business if they are injured by a false advertisement practice. Generally, in these claims, the plaintiff should show proof of 1) intent; 2) the statement; 3) the false or misleading advertisement; and 4) damages.

What damages are a consumer entitled to?

The remedies for violations of the FSAA are provided in Section 8.31 of the Minnesota Statutes. Injured consumers are entitled to recover damages, as well as costs and disbursements, including costs of investigation and reasonable attorney’s fees. Consumers may also be able to collect other equitable relief as awarded by the court.

Minn. Stat. §§ 325F.68 through 325F.70: What Is It?

Minnesota Statutes Chapter 325F, Section 68 through 70 is also known as the Prevention of Consumer Fraud Act (“PCFA”). The PCFA is a state law that provides legal protection to consumers by regulating the use of fraudulent or deceptive practices by businesses. The law places a number of restrictions on business actions and also offers remedies for consumers who suffer damages. Under the PCFA, both the Attorney General and individuals who are injured can bring suit against businesses that violate this law.

What is prohibited?

The PCFA prohibits businesses from engaging in fraud, misrepresentation, or deceptive practices during trade or commerce. According to the law, acts that are fraudulent, of false pretense or promise, are misleading, or are deceptive are considered to be unlawful business practices. Additionally, the PCFA outlaws the use of referral and chain referral selling methods. This means that businesses do not have the right to offer a rebate or a discount to a consumer if the discount is contingent on the occurrence of an event, such as the consumer giving the business the names of other prospective consumers. Businesses are also prohibited from holding false “going out of business” sales if they are not actually going out of business. Furthermore, if a business does not have written permission from a financial institution, they cannot use the logo or name of a financial institution on written solicitations to their consumers.

Who does the law apply to and how can consumers sue?

Businesses in Minnesota who engage in consumer transactions must follow the PCFA. Consumers who are injured by businesses have the right to collect private remedies by taking legal action against an offending company. Under the PCFA, a consumer can file a lawsuit against a business without first providing them with a pre-suit notice.

What damages are consumers entitled to?

Like the FSAA, remedies for violations of the PCFA are also provided for by Section 8.31 of the Minnesota Statutes. Injured consumers are entitled to recover damages, as well as costs and disbursements, including costs of investigation and reasonable attorney’s fees. Consumers may also be able to collect other equitable relief as awarded by the court.

Minn. Stat. §§ 325D.43 through 325D.48: What Is It?

Minnesota Statutes Chapter 325D, Section 43 through 48 is called the Minnesota Uniform Deceptive Trade Practices Act (“MUDTPA”). This is a law that aims to protect consumers from unfair or deceptive acts, as well as to protect companies from unfair methods of competition. Consumers who are likely to be damaged by a deceptive business action have the right to bring suit against an offending business.

What is prohibited?

There are a number of business actions that are prohibited under the MUDTPA. According to the law, some examples of deceptive trade practices include, but are not limited to:

  • Falsely representing that a certain good or service has characteristics or qualities that it does not have; and
  • Claiming another business’ goods as their own; and
  • Falsely advertising a good or service with no intention of selling it as advertised; and
  • Disparaging the goods or services of another business through the use of false or misleading statements; and
  • Making false or misleading statements regarding the price or price reduction of a good or service.

 Who does the law apply to and how can consumers sue?

The MUDTPA applies to Minnesota businesses who engage in trade or commerce and they must abide by the provisions set forth by the law. Consumers may sue a business that violates this law if they were damaged or are likely to be damaged by the deceptive trade practice that was committed. In order to file a claim and prevail, a consumer does not have to provide a pre-suit notice to the business and they also do not have to prove actual confusion or misunderstanding.

What damages are consumers entitled to?

Under the MUDTPA, prevailing consumers may be granted injunctive relief and also court costs and reasonable attorney’s fees.

Are there exemptions?

The MUDTPA identifies a number of acts and entities that are exempt from its regulations. For example, publishers or broadcasters that reproduce material are exempt from this act if they had no knowledge of the deceptive trade practice or a financial stake in the advertised good or service.

The statute of limitations period for debt in Minnesota:

In Minnesota, the statute of limitations period for debt for open accounts, unwritten contracts, and written contracts is six years, which means that a collector or a creditor generally cannot sue an individual to try to collect a debt from them if the debt has been unpaid for more than six years. Different types of debt have different statute of limitations periods. The statute of limitations period in Minnesota for auto loan debt is four years, it is six years for credit card debt, it is six years for medical debt, and it is six years for mortgage debt.  Once the statute of limitations period on a debt expires, a creditor cannot successfully sue a consumer for nonpayment of the debt. If a consumer promises to make a payment on an alleged debt, or makes even a small payment, it could potentially restart the clock on the statute of limitations.

Some of the places that a consumer can look to for help or answers to questions:

The laws and statutes discussed above can change. So, in the state that a consumer resides in, a consumer protection agency, the Office of the Attorney General, and/or a consumer protection attorney who is licensed in a consumer’s respective state can help a consumer in getting help, up to date information and interpretations, and/or with determining the answers to their questions in regard to the aforementioned laws. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau can assist as well.