Press Release: Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services
Tallahassee, FL – As part of National Consumer Protection Week, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services reports the top three complaints in Leon County in 2012 were regarding landlord/tenant issues, motor vehicle repair and Do Not Call violations.
Statewide, the top three grievances filed in 2012 were on the Do Not Call program, communications and telemarketing. There were 50,622 statewide complaints filed in 2012, including 3,641 in Leon County.
The department recognizes National Consumer Protection Week during March 3-9 as a coordinated campaign to encourage consumers in Florida to take full advantage of their consumer rights and make informed decisions.
It is sometimes difficult to determine if a sales pitch is legitimate or fraudulent. You can’t judge its legitimacy solely by the tone of someone’s voice or how friendly or honest the person seems. Good salespeople are convincing, but so are fraudulent individuals.
“Remember that an informed consumer is the best defense against fraud and deception,” said Commissioner Adam Putnam. “Do your homework. Learn about a business before entering into an agreement.”
Here are some tips to follow to avoid being scammed:
· Never provide personal or financial information to someone you don’t know.
· Research a business before you make a transaction. Ask for recommendations, look online for any reviews and check state and national websites to see if the business has many complaints filed.
· Sign up to be on the statewide Do Not Call program at www.800helpfla.com.
· Read and thoroughly understand any contract before you sign it.
· Do not give in to high pressure sales tactics. If someone is trying to sell you something over the telephone, ask for information in writing and tell them you will call back if you are interested.
· If an offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is the state’s clearinghouse for consumer complaints, protection and information. The consumer assistance center answers more than 220,000 telephone calls, emails and chats annually from consumers and businesses. Staff is able to respond to questions about programs and regulations under the department’s purview, provide information on a wide variety of topics or direct callers to the appropriate government agency.
Consumers who believe fraud has taken place can contact the department’s consumer protection and information hotline at 1-800-HELP-FLA (435-7352) or, for Spanish speakers, 1-800-FL-AYUDA (352-9832)
For more information on how to protect yourself from consumer scams, please visit www.FreshFromFlorida.com.