How to Comply with Advertising Laws
Advertising laws protect consumers by requiring advertisers to be truthful about their products and to be able to substantiate their claims. All businesses must comply with advertising and marketing laws, and failure to do so could result in costly lawsuits and civil penalties. So before you start an advertising campaign, it's important for you to understand some basic rules.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is the main federal agency that enforces advertising laws and regulations. Under the Federal Trade Commission Act:
Advertising must be truthful and non-deceptive
Advertisers must have evidence to back up their claims
Advertisements cannot be unfair
Additional laws apply to ads for specialized products like consumer leases, credit, ads with a 900 telephone number, and products sold through mail order or telephone sales. State and local governments also regulate advertising, and enforcement is usually the responsibility of a state attorney general, a consumer protection agency or a local district attorney.
The following resources and how-to guides are designed to help you comply with federal advertising laws.
Provides information and guidance about how to comply with laws covering truth-in-advertising, marketing, and product labeling laws and regulations. The site also includes information on specific types of products and services.
Offers answers to common questions about truth-in-advertising laws, unfair practices and rules that apply to specific products and types of advertising.
Offers guidance on how to comply with laws regarding comparison and bargain pricing.
Explains how to avoid illegal bait and switch tactics when pricing products.
Documents the proper ways to advertise "free" items, such as "buy one, get one free" promotions.
Provides suggestions for pricing your products and services. It is against the law to charge more than the advertised shelf price for a product. Stores that do may be subject to civil and criminal fines.
Endorsements and Testimonials
Explains how to advertise using endorsements from customers, experts and critical reviews.
State and Local Advertising Laws
Individual states and some localities have also passed specific truth-in-advertising laws. The Consumer Action Handbook provides links to state and local agencies responsible for enforcing truth-in-advertising and related consumer protection laws.