Nov 20, 2020
Tallahassee, Fla. — This week, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) and Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried issued an administrative complaint against a West Palm Beach-based company conducting unsolicited telephone sales calls to consumers on the “Florida Do Not Call” list. The administrative complaint against Turnkey Auto Group, Inc. and Fidelity Mutual Life, Inc., includes an administrative fine of $345,000 for 171 alleged violations. The complaints and fines were announced during International Fraud Awareness Week, a global effort to minimize the impact of fraudulent activity.
“Businesses allegedly conducting unsolicited calls in disregard of the ‘Florida Do Not Call’ list aren’t just violating consumer trust, they’re violating the law,” said Commissioner Nikki Fried. “As the state agency responsible for consumer complaints, our Department will continue to investigate all potential violations of the ‘Florida Do Not Call’ list to hold bad actors accountable for their actions.”
The FDACS actions follow an investigation into 69 consumer complaints submitted to the Department between September 11, 2019 and March 23, 2020 against Fidelity Mutual Life, Inc. and Turnkey Auto Group, Inc. The complaints claimed that the entity was conducting non-solicited telemarketing calls to market auto warranties directly to consumers, including Florida residents. As a result of the investigation, FDACS determined that Turnkey Auto Group, Inc. had indeed made unsolicited telephonic calls to telephone numbers on the Department’s “Florida Do Not Call” list. Per state law, the Department may impose an administrative fine for each call that violated the “Florida Do Not Call” list and therefore intends to issue an administrative fine of $345,000.
The alleged violations are as follows:
- Sixty-six violations of F.S.S. 501.059(2), which provides “any telephone solicitor who makes an unsolicited telephonic sales call to a residential, mobile, or telephonic paging device telephone number shall identify himself or herself by his or her true first and last names and the business on whose behalf he or she is soliciting immediately upon making contact by telephone with the person who is the object of the telephone solicitation.”
- Sixty-eight violations of F.S.S. 501.059(4), which provides that “no telephone solicitor shall make or cause to be made any unsolicited sales call to any residential, mobile, or telephonic paging device telephone number if the number for that telephone appears in the then-current quarterly listing published by the department.”
- Thirty-seven violations of F.S.S. 501.059(8)(a), which provides that “no person shall 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.”
Read the full Administrative Complaints for full details of the FDACS investigation’s findings. Turnkey Auto Group, Inc. has 21 days to request an Administrative Hearing; after a hearing or a failure to request one by the organization, FDACS may enter a Final Order to impose penalties as provided by law.
About FDACS and the Division of Consumer Services: FDACS is Florida’s state consumer protection agency, responsible for regulating charities and handling consumer complaints. FDACS handles more than 400,000 consumer complaints and inquiries, oversees more than 500,000 regulated devices, entities, and products like gas pumps and grocery scales, performs over 61,000 lab analyses on products like gasoline and brake fluid, performs nearly 9,000 fair ride inspections, and returned over $2.8 million to consumers through mediations with businesses. If consumers have concerns or questions about charities or consumer issues, they can file a complaint or find answers at FloridaConsumerHelp.com or by calling 1-800-HELP-FLA or 1-800-FL-AYUDA en Español.
About the Florida Do Not Call List: The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) maintains the state-specific Do Not Call list for residents who do not want to receive solicitations through their telephone. It is free to subscribe and the number remains on the list indefinitely. FDACS is also responsible for licensing businesses and salespersons who solicit potential customers through telemarketing. FDACS categorizes Do Not Call and telemarketing complaints as “unsolicited communications.” This is the top category of complaints received from consumers with FDACS, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).