March 4, 2009
Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan has sued a Frankfort, Ill., advertising company for allegedly airing deceptive commercials on Chicago-area media outlets that falsely claim consumers wouldnt pay sales tax on automobile purchases as part of President Barack Obamas stimulus package.
In these difficult economic times when consumers are doing all they can to stay afloat and manage their money wisely, these deceptive commercials are especially troubling, Madigan said.
Madigans complaint alleges that Prime Market Targeting, Inc., which creates advertising to generate sales leads for local auto dealers, is airing radio commercials for a supposed government-sanctioned program (found at www.deductyoursalestax.com or by calling 1-800-452-1498).
The ads imply that consumers will not have to pay sales tax and will receive an additional tax credit on automobile purchases as part of the new federal stimulus program. In actuality, the new federal law only allows for a sales tax deduction not a tax credit, and consumers are still required to pay the automobile sales tax.
The ad claims: Attention Illinois car buyers, save your sales tax and put up to $3,500 in your pocket. The federal stimulus package has passed. Buy a car today and take advantage of this sales tax relief. This is a government sanctioned program. Eliminate the sales tax.
Madigans lawsuit alleges that the defendants ads violate a 2005 settlement agreement reached with her Consumer Fraud Bureau that prohibited deceptive advertising.
The Attorney Generals complaint further alleges that the defendants current activity violates the Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act, the Uniform Deceptive Trade Practices Act and the Illinois Administrative Rules on Motor Vehicle Advertising.
The Attorney Generals lawsuit asks the court to permanently enjoin Prime Market Targeting from selling automobile-related advertising in Illinois. The suit also seeks restitution for consumers and asks the court to assess civil penalties of $50,000 per violation, and an additional $50,000 statutory civil penalty.