This article originally appeared in The Legal Intelligencer on January 9, 2019.
The Pennsylvania Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law (UTPCPL), 73 P.S. Section 201-1 et seq., and the Administrative Code of 1929, specifically 71 P.S. Section 307-3, vest the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General (OAG) with the power to investigate “unfair methods of competition” and “unfair or deceptive acts or practices” by companies doing business in Pennsylvania. The statutory definition of these phrases is quite lengthy, consisting of 21 separate, prohibited acts ranging from deceptive advertising and pyramid schemes to unlawful telephone solicitations and excessive shipping delays. But this catch-all definition perhaps best sums up the essence of what conduct is prohibited under the UTPCPL: “Fraudulent or deceptive conduct which creates a likelihood of confusion or of misunderstanding.” Penalties for violating the UTPCPL include what you would expect—civil penalties and the payment of costs and restitution. But these penalties often pale in comparison to the Attorney General’s power to petition for injunctive relief and forfeiture of the right to do business in Pennsylvania if the investigation is mishandled.