Surcharges and Fees

Both businesses and consumers sometimes have questions about whether surcharges or fees are permissible under the laws the Division enforces. Business must inform consumers exactly how much they will be paying for a good or service, and whether any fees or surcharges, are going to be added to the cost of that good or service, before the consumer makes a purchase. Businesses should also be prepared to explain the purpose and amount of a fee or surcharge before accepting payment from a consumer.

It is a deceptive act or practice for a business to knowingly or intentionally charge a consumer without the consumer's authorization or to mislead a consumer about the nature or purpose of a fee or surcharge. A consumer cannot meaningfully authorize the addition of a fee or surcharge unless the business first notifies the consumer in a clear and conspicuous manner about the fee or surcharge. Notification to a consumer after-the-fact, such as adding a line item on a receipt the consumer receives after payment, is not sufficient.

Similarly, businesses must not mislead consumers about the nature or purpose of a fee or surcharge. For example, a business should not say a fee or surcharge is a "credit card processing fee" if the business does not actually apply that fee or surcharge to the costs of processing the consumer's credit card, or if the fee or surcharge is in excess of the amount of the actual costs of processing the consumer’s credit card. This is also true of a fee or surcharge described as a "COVID-19” fee or surcharge. A business may not represent that a fee or surcharge will be used to cover COVID-19 related costs if that is not the case, or if the fee or surcharge is in excess of the business’s actual COVID-19 related costs for the transaction.

Businesses should be aware that the Division enforces a number of laws specifically addressing certain businesses. Those laws may contain their own more specific prohibitions on unauthorized charges. Please refer to for a full list of laws the Division enforces.