Florida has many laws that protect consumers, such as the Florida Consumer Protection Law and the Florida Telemarketing Act. These laws protect people from aggressive sales tactics and deceptive telemarketing practices by:
On July 1, 2021, legislation imposing new restrictions on telemarketing calls went into effect. These amendments to the Florida Consumer Protection Law and Florida Telemarketing Act created a new private right of action and are similar to the federal Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA).
Telemarketers in Florida must comply with very strict restrictions, including when they can call you and what they must say when they call.
Telemarketing curfews limit the times that telemarketers can call potential customers. In Florida, telemarketers may call you only between 8:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. (Previously, calls could be made until 9:00 p.m.) (Fla. Stat. Ann. § 501.616).
Under Florida law, telemarketers may not block their name or number from showing up on your caller identification system. (Fla. Stat. Ann. § 501.616).
From the time you answer the call, the telemarketer has 30 seconds to state that person's true name, the name of the company the telemarketer represents, and the goods or services being sold. (Fla. Stat. Ann. § 501.613).
If a sale or an agreement to purchase is completed, the seller must inform the purchaser of the purchaser's cancellation rights (see below), state the license number for both the seller and the salesperson, and give the seller's street address. (Fla. Stat. Ann. § 501.613).
If you agree to buy the goods or services that the telemarketer is offering, the telemarketer must provide you with information about your right to cancel the agreement. (Fla. Stat. Ann. § 501.613).
Under Florida law, you're generally entitled to a refund if you return the goods or make a written request for a refund within seven days after you receive the goods or services. (Fla. Stat. Ann. § 501.615).
A commercial telephone seller or salesperson may not make more than three solicitation phone calls from any number to a person over a 24-hour period on the same subject matter or issue, regardless of the phone number used to make the call. (Fla. Stat. Ann. § 501.616).
Florida law now requires callers to get prior express written consent before placing a "telephonic sales call" (see below) using an autodialer. The law says "A person may not make or knowingly allow a telephonic sales call to be made if such call involves an automated system for the selection or dialing of telephone numbers or the playing of a recorded message when a connection is completed to a number called without the prior express written consent of the called party." (Fla. Stat. Ann. § 501.059).
The law defines a "telephonic sales call" as "a telephone call, text message, or voicemail transmission to a consumer for the purpose of soliciting a sale of any consumer goods or services, soliciting an extension of credit for consumer goods or services, or obtaining information that will or may be used for the direct solicitation of a sale of consumer goods or services or an extension of credit for such purposes." (Fla. Stat. Ann. § 501.059).
The "prior express written consent" must include:
Businesses and salespeople that engage in telemarketing must obtain a license from the Florida Division of Consumer Services (the entity that manages telemarketing activities in the state) before operating in Florida.
If you want to find out if a particular business or salesperson holds a Florida telemarketing license, go to the Division of Consumer Services website. Enter the name of the company or salesperson in the "Name" search box.
The Florida Telemarketing Act applies to businesses located within the state that make telemarketing calls and businesses in other states that call Florida residents. But certain entities—like religious organizations, newspapers, banks, charities, and political organizations—are generally exempt from some of Florida's telemarketing laws. (Fla. Stat. Ann. § 501.604). If a non-exempt telemarketer violates any of the abovementioned laws, that telemarketer is breaking the law.
Florida law includes a rebuttable presumption that a telephonic sales call made to any area code in Florida is made to a Florida resident or to a person in Florida at the time of the call. (Fla. Stat. Ann. § 501.059).
If a caller violates any of Florida's requirements or restrictions on telemarketers, you can do one or more of the following things.
To report a violation, file a complaint online with the Florida Division of Consumer Services or call 800-HELP-FLA (435-7352). If the department believes the telemarketer is in violation of the law, it will take action against the telemarketer. Violators of Florida's telemarketing laws are subject to a civil penalty of $10,000 per violation and possibly criminal penalties as well.
Again, Florida law generally provides you with the right to get a refund if you return the goods or make a written request for a refund within seven days of receiving the goods or services. (Fla. Stat. Ann. § 501.615).
As of July 1, 2021, Florida law creates a private right of action for violations of the "telephone solicitation" section of the Florida Consumer Protection Law, including using an autodialer to call a consumer without prior express written consent and failing to follow do-not-call requests or avoid calling numbers on the Florida do-not-call list. (Fla. Stat. Ann. § 501.059).
If a caller violates the law, you can ask a court for an injunction or recovery of your actual money damages or $500, whichever is greater, with the possibility of damages up to $1,500 for willing or knowing violations. You can probably also recover attorneys' fees. (Fla. Stat. Ann. § 501.059).
To avoid unwanted telemarketing calls, screen calls your calls to avoid them. Hang up on telemarketers if you happen to answer one of the calls but don't want to talk to the telemarketer.
Also, add yourself to the available do-not-call lists. Do-not-call lists protect consumers from unwanted calls from telemarketers.
The Federal Communications Commission and Federal Trade Commission maintain a national do-not-call list. The registry is nationwide and applies to all telemarketers, though certain organizations, such as non-profit organizations, are exempt. You can add your number to this database by visiting the Federal Trade Commission website.
Some states, including Florida, have their own do-not-call list. If you opt into the Florida do-not-call list, telemarketers can't contact you on your residential phone, cellphone, or paging device. You can sign up for the Florida do-not-call list at the Florida Division of Consumer Services website. Under prior law, your number would remain on the list for five years. Now, however, your registration won't expire. (Fla. Stat. Ann. § 501.059).
Under Florida law, if you tell a telemarketer you no longer wish to receive calls from that company, the telemarketer must stop calling you. This law also applies to charitable organizations seeking charitable contributions. (Fla. Stat. Ann. § 501.059).
According to the Florida Division of Consumer Services, common telemarketing scams in Florida include offers involving foreign lotteries, prizes, investment opportunities, and "free" or "low-cost" vacations.
The Florida Consumer Protection Law is located at Fla. Stat. Ann. §§ 501.001 and following and includes the Florida Telemarketing Act at Fla. Stat. Ann. §§ 501.601 through 501.626 and Florida's do-not-call law at Fla. Stat. Ann. § 501.059. Statutes change, so checking them is always a good idea. And some rules can even vary within a state. These are just some of the reasons to consider consulting a lawyer if you have questions about the law.
Also, the Florida Division of Consumer Services provides information on telemarketing, including consumer FAQs and other resources.
If you want to learn more about your rights under Florida's telemarketing laws—or you want to file a suit against a telemarketer—consider talking to an attorney.