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Financial Wellness: Deceptive Advertising

Prefer .gov and .edu resources

Buyer Beware:

"No such thing as a free lunch." ... Free lunch usually comes with an obligation or sales pitch.  Example: Buy one get one free.
"If it sounds too good to be probably is" ...  too good to be true, therefore it is not truly a good deal. What's the catch (trap or obligation)?
"Sleep on it!" ... If high pressure sales techniques are being used, they are trying to get you to make an impulse purchase based on emotions. If you sleep on it, your emotions fade and you can think more logically.  Example: Buy now and get 30% off your purchase, for a limited time only. 

Free resources are like a sample at a grocery store; They are bait to try and hook you into buying or doing something.

  • Ideally, people want cheap, fast, and excellent. 
  • Realistically, you have to choose two of of the three variables at the expense of the third.

Be Aware of Common Sales Tricks

Advertising can be dishonest without being illegal. Learn more about "false advertising" or “bait and switch.”

According to Consumer Protection Fact Sheet - Deceptive Advertising (

"Wisconsin law gives you the right, through private legal action, to recover financial losses, as well as costs and attorney fees, for violations of the deceptive advertising law.

Even with the law behind you, the ultimate responsibility to fight dishonest advertising is yours. Do not be swayed by eye-catching statements such as “fantastic savings,” “prices slashed,” or “lowest prices in town.”

There are many gray areas where advertising may exaggerate a product’s quality without actually violating the law. In these cases, the only protection is to be a careful consumer."

What to do if you experience deception, false representation, fraud, tc.

1) Check out business through references and BBB (Better Business Bureau) before signing a check.
2) Keep all original relevant documents. 

3) Sincerely try to resolve dispute yourself. Record all contact dates and results. or will only take your case after a due diligence or good-faith effort to resolve the case on your own.

BBBs accept complaints that meet the following criteria:

  • The complaint includes the complainant’s name, a postal address, and an email address.
  • The complaint includes the business’s name and provides sufficient information to determine the business’s location.
  • The complaint seeks assistance from BBB.
  • The complaint is from a person (or a person’s authorized representative) or entity (business-to-business) that had a marketplace "relationship".
  • The complaint relates to a marketplace issue. Typically, the issue complained of must have arisen within the previous 12 months. (Note: warranties/guarantees or other extenuating circumstances may supersede this criteria.)
  • The complaint must allege a deficiency in the company's marketplace performance with regard to the services or products that the business provided or allegedly agreed to provide.
  • The complaint is not in litigation when filed with BBB and has not been resolved by a previous court action, arbitration, or settlement between the parties.
  • The complaint contains no abusive language.
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