Violators of the "Do Not Call List" and telemarketers received more complaints than any other categories received in 2012 by Florida's Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
The department’s consumer assistance center answered 191,200 calls and 33,450 emails through Dec. 26 of this year. In addition, the consumer assistance operators participated in 4,917 online chats through a new online chat option available at 800helpfla.com. A total of 50,622 complaints were filed, a 21 percent increase over the previous year.
“We’re an important resource for consumers to find information about registered businesses and professionals, as well as learn how they can protect themselves from deceptive business practices,” said Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam. “In many cases, we can moderate disputes between consumers and businesses and help recover money lost.”
The top 10 complaints filed by consumers with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ consumer assistance center in 2012 were:
- Do Not Call – 17,337
- Telemarketing – 4,159
- Communication – 2,392
- Landlord/Tenant – 1,564
- Sellers of Travel – 1,515
- Motor Vehicle Repair – 1,470
- Credit/Banking – 1,460
- Real Estate Broker/Salesperson – 1,126
- Cable – 1,120
- Motor Vehicle Sales/Accessories – 1,078
Complaints about violators of Do Not Call has topped the list for four consecutive years, but this year saw a substantial increase over last year, growing from 11,769 in 2011 to 17,337 in 2012. The increase in complaints is consistent with the increase in subscribers to the Florida Do Not Call list.
In April, subscriptions to Florida’s Do Not Call list would be offered at no cost to Floridians as a result of a measure passed during the 2012 legislative session. Since then, more than 330,000 numbers have been added to the list, increasing subscriptions five-fold.
Of the 50,622 complaints received by the department, 33,251 were successfully resolved or closed. More than $3,858,000 has been recovered on behalf of Florida consumers this year.
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)