How to Report AT&T for False Advertising

Want to know how to report AT&T for false advertising? We explain the laws that govern false advertising, how to report it, and what to do if you have been a victim of false advertising.

What is False Advertising?

False advertising or marketing is any time a company presents product information or information about their services that is misleading, incorrect, or fraudulent.

The FTC defines false advertising as:

Sourced from the FTC with creative input from FairShake.

There are rules to govern this at the state and federal level in the form of consumer protection laws. Most laws are governed by The Federal Trade Commission Act, which established the FTC in 1914. The FTC has jurisdiction to respond to complaints about false advertising from individuals or businesses, as outlined in the US legal code.

Note: No one actually needs to be misled for a court to find that an advertisement is misleading.

What Are the Different Types of False Advertising?

The FTC categorizes a lot of different types of false advertising. There are a lot of rules that regulate how companies can advertise their products or services and if they make a scientific claim without the evidence, that is illegal just the same as if they make disparaging and incorrect remarks about a competitor, that’s illegal. Hidden fees are yet another common type of false advertising.

Companies might try to make their products seem more appealing by failing to disclose the entire price like leaving out equipment fees, maintenance charges, or service fees to which you will be subject after you make your initial purchase. Doing this is against the law. It can even be considered false advertising if companies put all of those extra charges in really difficult to find fine print.

So if you get a bill with charges that you weren’t expecting that weren’t easy to find, that might be a case for the FTC.

AT&T False Advertising Allegations

AT&T settled a lawsuit over their misleading 5G E Logo. Prior to AT&T being sued by Sprint for false advertising, AT&T had been criticized by major cell phone companies for their misleading ads.

So prevalent are these issues that the AT&T community forums page has a section dedicated to false advertising complaints, where customers are upset over being told their monthly bill, upon signing up with AT&T, would be only one price each month, and yet they see their prices increase $40 each month. 

AT&T was fined $100 million for misleading their customers in their advertising about “unlimited” data, specifically where customers with unlimited data get it in exchange for significantly slower speeds–something AT&T did not share. The FTC has announced lawsuits against AT&T for false advertising for years about this matter.

AT&T and the FTC have had previous legal battles, when AT&T had to pay $105 million for unauthorized charges to their customers. In this particular case, the FTC made it known that customers who were affected could apply for a refund on the FTC website.

But that was a few years ago. AT&T surely learned their lesson, right? Wrong. In 2019 AT&T agreed to pay $60 million to resolve more FTC allegations of misleading customers with “unlimited data” promises.

What to Do If You See False Advertising in Action

In order to report the company for false advertising when you see it in action, you don’t have to have been affected. In fact, the courts do not require that anyone actually be affected by the false advertising in order to convict a company of doing it. 

So, you can report the company by submitting a consumer complaint to the FTC. Only by filing a Consumer complaint with the FTC can they investigate and take action. You can also submit a complaint to TruthinAdvertising.org where it will go public.

If you were wronged by false advertising, the rules that govern how you can get recourse will depend on your state’s laws related to Unfair and Deceptive Acts and Practices.

What can happen to AT&T if they are reported for false advertising?

The FTC can issue a variety of penalties ranging from a simple letter asking them to change their marketing and fix the issue or something like significant legal fines. If they do issue a fine, you don’t necessarily get any of that.

Affected by False Advertising? Here’s What You Can Do

That means that if you were personally affected by false advertising and you lost money because of it, your other options for compensation are to reach out to customer service but if that doesn’t work, use consumer arbitration.

Consumer arbitration is usually faster and less expensive than going to court but it can still be a bit confusing because it is a legal process with a fair amount of paperwork. That’s where we can help. FairShake helps you navigate the consumer arbitration process, from filing your claim to getting the resolution you deserve.

Tell us about your complaint and we’ll help you get a fair resolution.

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