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Consumer Protection Month
Service members often spend long periods of time away from home and may not
be able to regularly check their financial accounts or credit reports, which can
increase their risk for identity theft or fraud. The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA)
provides several options for protecting a service member's credit file.
- Prior to leaving for active duty,
members are encouraged to initiate an Active Duty
Alert. This alert is available to service members who are on
active duty away from their usual station and requires lenders to take extra
steps to verify a requester's identity before approving new credit. An
active duty alert lasts for one year and can be renewed to match the period
of deployment. It also removes the service member's name from nationwide
credit reporting companies' (Equifax, TansUnion, Experian) pre-screening
lists for credit offers and insurance for two years.
Initial Fraud Alert may be requested if
a service member has a "good faith suspicion" that they have been or will be
a victim of identity theft or fraud. Service members requesting this type of
alert also have a right to one free consumer report from each of the
national credit reporting companies in addition to the free annual report
available to all consumers. This alert lasts 90 days unless the service
member removes it sooner.
- Service members
are victims of identity theft may request an
Extended Fraud Alert. This alert is valid for seven years and
requires the requestor to submit a police report to the credit bureaus
notifying them that the individual has been a victim of identity theft and
has reported the crime to the authorities.
Service members may call, go online or write to any one of the three
largest nationwide credit reporting companies to add or remove these free
alerts. Once an alert is placed with one nationwide credit reporting
company, it will be added to the consumer's report with the other companies.
these alerts provide notice to lenders about potentially fraudulent
activity, they do not fully prevent access to an individual's credit file.
Service members who want to completely prohibit the release of their credit
file to potential new lenders should request a
Security Freeze. A Security Freeze prevents prospective lenders
from accessing individuals' credit files. Lenders will not offer credit to
an individual if they cannot access the credit reporting file. Each of the
nationwide credit reporting companies must be contacted to establish a
The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services maintains the
state-specific Do Not Call list for Florida
residents. We are committed to informing you about the latest developments to
protect consumers from unwanted calls. Recently major strides have been made
toward protecting consumers from unwanted robocalls and spoofed calls.
- On May 23, 2019, the
U.S. Senate passed the
Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence (TRACED)
Act. The TRACED Act will help strengthen the FCC's ability to combat illegal
robocalls with increased fines, longer statues of limitations, and by
removing requirements which obligate the FCC to warn some robocallers before
- On June 6, 2019, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approved a
ruling that makes clear that phone service providers may block unwanted
calls if consumers are informed and have the opportunity to opt out of the
blocking. This action empowers phone service providers to protect consumers
from unwanted robocalls before those calls even reach the consumers' phones.
more about the FCC's decision.)
- On June 25, 2019, the
Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced a federal
and state coordinated effort to combat illegal robocalls — Operation: Call
it Quits! This joint crackdown is part of an ongoing effort to help stem the
tide of universally loathed pre-recorded telemarketing calls. It also
includes new information to help educate consumers about illegal robocalls.
Additionally, the FCC hosted a summit on July 11, 2019, to identify
any challenges phone service providers might have to implementing technology
that will prevent spoofed calls and discuss how to overcome those
challenges. The technology, called SHAKEN/STIR, will validate phone calls
passing through the complex web of networks, allowing the phone company of
the consumer receiving the call to verify that a call is from the person
We will continue to support measures which will protect you from unwanted and
spoofed calls and take aggressive action against those who violate the Florida
Do Not Call statute. To stay up-to-date on the latest developments, visit our
Do Not Call webpage or sign up for our
FTC Robocalls Information
you answer the phone and hear a recorded message instead of a live person, it's
a robocall. Companies need your written permission
to use robocalls to sell things to you (click on image at
right to see when illegal).
Why you're getting so many robocalls:
- Often, it's scammers. The internet makes it cheap and easy for them to
call from anywhere in the world.
What you can do about them:
- Hang up. DO NOT press any numbers. If you press a number, you might get
even more calls.
- Use call blocking. Talk to your phone carrier and read expert reviews
about your options.
Report robocalls to the FTC at
Learn more at www.ftc.gov/calls.
Scammers Using P2P Payment Services
Peer-to-peer (P2P) payment platforms (i.e., Apple Pay, Zelle, Venmo, and Cash
App), offer a fast and convenient way to settle restaurant bills with your
friends and send money to your family. These services
allow users to send money to one another using their mobile devices through a
linked bank account or credit card. Unfortunately, they are also
becoming a popular payment method for scammers.
An increasing number of consumers have lost money after a fraudster asked
them for payment via a P2P payment network. Fraudsters have used the
platforms for scams ranging from puppy scams to fake check scams to romance
scams. Unfortunately, many consumers mistakenly believe that P2P payment systems
have protections like a debit or credit card since many P2P payment systems are
affiliated with banks. This is not true. Once you send
money via a P2P payment system, it is nearly impossible to get the money back or
There are several steps you can take to avoid falling victim to a scammer
using a P2P service:
Don't use P2P services to purchase products. If an online retailer
requires payment via a P2P payment service, it is probably a scam.
- Only use P2P services to pay people you know. P2P payments are meant to
be used between friends and family, or with people you know well and trust,
like your hairdresser or a babysitter.
- Double &
triple- check the address, username, or phone number of the
person you are trying to send money to. If you make a mistake and send the
money to the wrong person, it can be very difficult or even impossible to
get the money back. If you are worried you may have the wrong person,
double-check the email address/username and try sending a small amount first
to confirm that your intended recipient received it.
- Opt-in for stronger security. Almost every popular P2P platform offers
the ability to create a personal identification number (PIN). Once the PIN
is created, a user will be required to enter it when they open the app, or
before they are able to transfer money. This extra layer of security can
help protect your money if your phone falls into the wrong hands.
For more information on P2P payment scams, visit the Federal Trade
Commission's website at www.ftc.gov.
Consumer Protection Speaker Request
Does your organization need a guest speaker for its next event
have the latest information on scams and
fraudulent schemes that bilk people out of millions of dollars annually. At your
next event or meeting, let one of our representatives educate your group on the
latest consumer issues. We can present information about illegal pyramid
schemes, home employment opportunities, how to avoid telemarketing fraud, and
much, much more.
We're here for you and we're FREE.
Call us at 1-800-HELP-FLA for more
Please provide valuable feedback regarding nonprofits and the
causes, connections, and actions that lead you to making a donation. For less
than 6 minutes of your time, you can help improve the process of giving for
Visit us online at
https://www.flnonprofits.org/page/IndividualGivingSurvey to see the
objectives of the survey, then
start the survey.
Or, call 1-800-435-7352 (for Spanish,
Survey will close Thursday, August 15th.
Florida's A-Z Resource Guide
Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services
has created the "A
- Z Resource Guide" to help Floridians find the most
appropriate agency to contact for various issues. The
"A-Z Resource Guide" is available online at
FreshFromFlorida.com. The services offered to
consumers are listed in alphabetical order, in addition
to a search function that provides information about the
regulatory agency and statutes, if applicable. This
resource guide is available in English and Spanish.
The department assists consumers regardless of
whether we regulate the specific business or industry.
If your complaint falls within our jurisdiction, we
attempt to resolve your dispute and evaluate the
business for compliance with applicable statutes. If
your complaint is filed against a business that is not
regulated by any federal, state or local government
entity, we will attempt informal mediation to resolve
the dispute. In the event that the complaint falls
within another agency's jurisdiction, we will refer it
to that agency.
Before engaging in services with a business, it's
also a good idea to research the business to see if it
has any complaints filed against it and, if so, how they
were resolved. To do this, consumers can utilize the "Business/Complaint
Lookup" feature on our website.
Click to View
The Division of Food Safety
monitors food from the point of manufacturing
and distribution through wholesale and retail
sales to ensure the public of safe, wholesome
and properly represented food products.
The Consumer Product Safety
Commission provides consumer product recall
information as part of the agency's mission to
protect consumers and families from hazardous
The Florida Department of Agriculture and
Consumer Services is the state's clearinghouse for
consumer complaints, protection, and information.
Consumers who believe fraud has taken place can contact
the department's consumer protection and information
hotline by calling 1-800-HELP-FLA (435-7352) or, for
Spanish speakers, 1-800-FL-AYUDA (352-9832) or visit us