The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has recently taken a stand against deceptive practices in the automobile industry, particularly the notorious "bait-and-switch" scam. This fraudulent tactic involves falsely advertising a low price or desirable vehicle to lure customers into dealerships, only to switch them to a more expensive or less desirable model once they arrive.

State Support for FTC Rule:

Recognizing the prevalence and harm caused by these scams, the states of Maryland and Pennsylvania have announced their unwavering support for the FTC's proposed rule aimed at combatting such deceptive practices. This rule, once finalized, will empower both the FTC and state agencies with enhanced enforcement capabilities.

Key Provisions of the FTC Rule:

The proposed FTC rule includes a comprehensive set of provisions designed to protect consumers from bait-and-switch scams:

  • Prohibition on Deceptive Advertising: Advertisers will be prohibited from making false or misleading claims about vehicle prices, features, or availability.
  • Transparency Requirements: Dealerships will be required to disclose all material terms of a vehicle sale, including the total price, financing options, and any applicable fees.
  • Cooling-Off Period: Consumers will be provided with a three-day cooling-off period after signing a vehicle sale contract, allowing them to cancel the transaction without penalty.
  • Enhanced Enforcement Authority: The FTC and state agencies will have increased authority to investigate and prosecute deceptive sales practices, including the ability to impose civil penalties.

Impact on Maryland and Pennsylvania:

The adoption of the FTC rule will have a significant impact on Maryland and Pennsylvania consumers by:

  • Protecting Buyers from Deception: Consumers will be shielded from false advertising and predatory sales tactics designed to deceive them into purchasing vehicles they do not want or cannot afford.
  • Promoting Fair Competition: By leveling the playing field, the rule will encourage honest and ethical practices within the automobile industry.
  • Strengthening Consumer Confidence: Consumers will have increased confidence when shopping for vehicles, knowing that they are protected from misleading and deceptive practices.

Additional State Efforts:

In addition to supporting the FTC rule, Maryland and Pennsylvania have implemented their own initiatives to combat bait-and-switch scams:

  • Maryland's "Cooling-Off Period" Law: Maryland has enacted a law providing consumers with a three-day cooling-off period for vehicle purchases, similar to the provision included in the FTC rule.
  • Pennsylvania's "Consumer Protection Act": Pennsylvania's Consumer Protection Act prohibits unfair and deceptive practices in the sale of goods and services, including vehicles.


The joint support of Maryland and Pennsylvania for the FTC's proposed rule against bait-and-switch scams is a significant step towards protecting consumers from fraudulent practices in the automobile industry. The rule, once finalized, will provide both the FTC and state agencies with the necessary tools and authority to eradicate these deceptive tactics and create a fairer marketplace for vehicle buyers.

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