Florida has some quite stringent laws regulating telemarketing and punishing telemarketing fraud. Although many prosecutions for telemarketing fraud are conducted by Federal authorities, Florida has laws of its own that regulate how telemarketers operating in the state must act and that penalize instances of fraud committed by telemarketers. This is what you need to know about the laws of telemarketing fraud in Florida.
Boiled down to its essence, telemarketing fraud is operating a fraudulent plan or scheme and using the telephone to communicate with victims of that fraudulent plan or scheme. Frequently such crimes involve obtaining credit card or banking data from victims. Among the more common telemarketing fraud scenarios are
- vehicle warranties,
- credit repair services,
- prizes or sweepstakes
Do Not Call List
Several years ago Florida was one of the states to implement a statewide Do Not Call list. Similar to the Federal Do Not Call List, the Florida version allows Floridians to sign up their phone numbers for the list, which retains those numbers for five years.
Florida law provides that those who wish to act as telemarketers in the state must obtain a license. In the application the telemarketer must disclose relevant information about his or her identity, previous experience, criminal record, and pending criminal and civil actions. Businesses who seek to be licensed telemarketers in Florida must also post a bond.
Florida law restricts licensed telemarketers from doing several things, including
- Call before 8 AM or after 8 PM,
- call more than three times in 24 hours, and
- spoof the number he or she is calling from.
Some Florida businesses and organizations are exempt from telemarketing laws, including
- licensed security brokers,
- licensed insurance brokers,
- cable companies,
- telephone companies.
Florida statute provides that a telemarketer in Florida must tell those with whom he or she is on the phone certain pieces of information, including
- Legal name,
- company he or she is representing, and
- the product or service they are selling.
Further, Florida law prohibits that the telemarketer require payment by credit card or even state that that method is preferred.
If a contract is formed as a result of the telemarketing call, the telemarketer must inform the customer of his or her cancellation rights, the license numbers of both the telemarketer and the business, and the street address of the business.
In Florida, telemarketing for an unlicensed business is a felony of the third degree, which is punishable by up to 5 years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000. A business using unlicensed telemarketers is also a third degree felony, and so is an individual telemarketing without a Florida telemarketing license.
So too is using a deceptive machine to telemarket in the state of Florida. A second or subsequent violation of any of these statutes is a second degree felony, which may earn a defendant up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
In addition to criminal penalties, Florida’s telemarketing fraud laws allow for civil penalties. Telemarketing fraud is a Class III civil penalty, which could yield a fine of up to $10,000.