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The Florida Statutes

The 2003 Florida Statutes

Title XXXV
AGRICULTURE, HORTICULTURE, AND ANIMAL INDUSTRY
Chapter 570
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE AND CONSUMER SERVICES
View Entire Chapter
Section 570.544, Florida Statutes 2003

1570.544  Division of Consumer Services; director; powers; records.--

(1)  The director of the Division of Consumer Services shall be appointed by and serve at the pleasure of the commissioner.

(2)  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.

(3)(a)  Any agency, office, bureau, division, or board of state government receiving a complaint which deals with consumer fraud or consumer protection and which 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 which does have the proper regulatory or enforcement authority to deal with it.

(4)  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 shall not be construed as violative of this prohibition.

(5)  It shall be the duty of the Division of Consumer Services to maintain records and compile summaries and analyses of consumer complaints under its jurisdiction 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.

1Note.--

A.  Section 60, ch. 2003-399, amended s. 570.544 "[i]n order to implement Specific Appropriations 1335-1339 of the 2003-2004 General Appropriations Act."

B.  Section 61, ch. 2003-399, provides that "[t]he amendment of section 570.544, Florida Statutes, by this act shall expire on July 1, 2004, and the text of that section shall revert to that in existence on June 30, 2003, except that any amendments to such text enacted other than by this act shall be preserved and continue to operate to the extent that such amendments are not dependent upon the portions of such text which expire pursuant to the provisions of this act." Effective July 1, 2004, s. 570.544, as amended by s. 61, ch. 2003-399, will read:

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 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.

(3)  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 that 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.

(4)  If any complaint received by the Division of Consumer Services concerns matters which involve concurrent jurisdiction in more than one agency, duplicate copies of the complaint shall be referred to those offices deemed to have concurrent jurisdiction.

(5)(a)  Any agency, office, bureau, division, or board of state government receiving a complaint which deals with consumer fraud or consumer protection and which 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 which does have the proper regulatory or enforcement authority to deal with it.

(6)(a)  The office or agency to which a complaint has been referred shall within 30 days acknowledge receipt of the complaint and report on the disposition made of the complaint. In the event a complaint has not been disposed of within 30 days, the receiving office or agency shall file progress reports with the Division of Consumer Services no less frequently than 30 days until final disposition.

(b)  The report shall contain at least the following information:

1.  A finding of whether the receiving agency has jurisdiction of the subject matter involved in the complaint.

2.  Whether the complaint is deemed to be frivolous, sham, or without basis in fact or law.

3.  What action has been taken and a report on whether the original complainant was satisfied with the final disposition.

4.  Any recommendation regarding needed changes in law or procedure which in the opinion of the reporting agency or office will improve consumer protection in the area involved.

(7)(a)  If the office or agency receiving a complaint fails to file a report as contemplated in this section, that failure shall be construed as a denial by the receiving office or agency that it has jurisdiction of the subject matter contained in the complaint.

(b)  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 shall not be construed as violative of this prohibition.

(9)  It shall be the duty of the Division of Consumer Services to 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.

Note.--Former s. 570.283.

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