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2023 Florida Statutes (including 2023C)

Division of Consumer Services; director; powers; processing of complaints; records.
F.S. 570.544
570.544 Division of Consumer Services; director; powers; processing of complaints; records.
(1) The director of the Division of Consumer Services shall be appointed by and serve at the pleasure of the commissioner.
(2) The director shall supervise, direct, and coordinate the activities of the division and shall, under the direction of the department, enforce the provisions of ss. 604.15-604.34 and chapters 472, 496, 501, 507, 525, 526, 527, 531, 539, 559, 616, and 849.
(3) The Division of Consumer Services may:
(a) Conduct studies and make analyses of matters affecting the interests of consumers.
(b) Study the operation of laws for consumer protection.
(c) Advise and make recommendations to the various state agencies concerned with matters affecting consumers.
(d) Assist, advise, and cooperate with local, state, or federal agencies and officials in order to promote the interests of consumers.
(e) Make use of the testing and laboratory facilities of the department for the detection of consumer fraud.
(f) Report to the appropriate law enforcement officers any information concerning violation of consumer protection laws.
(g) Assist, develop, and conduct programs of consumer education and consumer information through publications and other informational and educational material prepared for dissemination to the public, in order to increase the competence of consumers.
(h) Organize and hold conferences on problems affecting consumers.
(i) Recommend programs to encourage business and industry to maintain high standards of honesty, fair business practices, and public responsibility in the production, promotion, and sale of consumer goods and services.
(4) In addition to the powers, duties, and responsibilities authorized by this or any other chapter, the Division of Consumer Services shall serve as a clearinghouse for matters relating to consumer protection, consumer information, and consumer services generally. It shall receive complaints and grievances from consumers and promptly transmit them to the agency most directly concerned in order that the complaint or grievance may be expeditiously handled in the best interests of the complaining consumer. If no agency exists, the Division of Consumer Services shall seek a settlement of the complaint using formal or informal methods of mediation and conciliation and may seek any other resolution of the matter in accordance with its jurisdiction.
(5) If any complaint received by the Division of Consumer Services concerns matters that involve concurrent jurisdiction in more than one agency, duplicate copies of the complaint shall be referred to those offices deemed to have concurrent jurisdiction.
(6)(a) Any agency, office, bureau, division, or board of state government receiving a complaint that deals with consumer fraud or consumer protection and that is not within the jurisdiction of the receiving agency, office, bureau, division, or board originally receiving it, shall immediately refer the complaint to the Division of Consumer Services.
(b) Upon receipt of such a complaint, the Division of Consumer Services shall make a determination of the proper jurisdiction to which the complaint relates and shall immediately refer the complaint to the agency, office, bureau, division, or board that does have the proper regulatory or enforcement authority to deal with it.
(7) The office or agency to which a complaint has been referred shall within 30 days acknowledge receipt of the complaint. If an office or agency receiving a complaint determines that the matter presents a prima facie case for criminal prosecution or if the complaint cannot be settled at the administrative level, the complaint together with all supporting evidence shall be transmitted to the Department of Legal Affairs or other appropriate enforcement agency with a recommendation for civil or criminal action warranted by the evidence.
(8) The records of the Division of Consumer Services are public records. However, customer lists, customer names, and trade secrets are confidential and exempt from the provisions of s. 119.07(1). Disclosure necessary to enforcement procedures does not violate this prohibition.
(9) The Division of Consumer Services shall maintain records and compile summaries and analyses of consumer complaints and their eventual disposition, which data may serve as a basis for recommendations to the Legislature and to state regulatory agencies.
History.s. 1, ch. 67-342; ss. 11, 14, 35, ch. 69-106; s. 2, ch. 73-124; s. 7, ch. 77-108; ss. 1, 2, ch. 78-16; s. 7, ch. 78-179; s. 1, ch. 79-37; s. 2, ch. 81-55; s. 3, ch. 89-4; s. 3, ch. 90-323; s. 1, ch. 91-114; s. 1, ch. 92-62; s. 40, ch. 92-291; s. 33, ch. 93-169; s. 349, ch. 96-406; s. 1183, ch. 97-103; s. 50, ch. 2001-279; ss. 60, 61, ch. 2003-399; s. 11, ch. 2006-165; s. 42, ch. 2012-67; s. 12, ch. 2016-61.
Note.Former s. 570.283.