Commissioner Putnam Provides Tips for Military Consumer Protection Month

July 13, 2016

TALLAHASSEE — July is Military Consumer Protection Month, and Commissioner Adam H. Putnam is providing tips for Florida’s more than 1.5 million veterans and 65,000 active duty military members to protect themselves against fraud.  Military Consumer Protection Month is a national effort to raise awareness about common scams and how active duty military, veterans and their families can avoid them.

“Our veterans and active military members have sacrificed so much for us, and we owe it to them to do all we can to protect them from fraud,” said Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam.

The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services provides numerous resources for all residents, including the following:

•     A Live Chat function, which assists consumers with information and when filing complaints. Select “Live Chat” from the department’s home page at www.FreshFromFlorida.com.

•     The Little Black Book of Scams, which provides tips to avoid charity scams, identity theft, tax scams, internet scams, telemarketer scams, foreign lotteries and more.

•     A Gift Givers’ Guide, which helps consumers who are planning to donate money to charity know how much each charity gives to its cause and if it is properly registered with FDACS.

•     A Do Not Call list, which provides free relief to consumers who are receiving unwanted sales calls at home or on their cell phone.

•     A call center, which is open Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., to assist consumers with gathering information about a business, charity or other organization.  The department can also help consumers file a complaint if they feel they have been taken advantage of.  Call 1-800-HELP-FLA (435-7352) or, for Spanish speakers, 1-800-FL-AYUDA (352-9832).

To better service Florida’s veterans and their families, Commissioner Adam H. Putnam worked with the Legislature to allow the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to waive initial business registration fees for honorably discharged veterans, the spouse of a veteran, or a business with a majority ownership held by a veteran or spouse of a veteran within 60 months after the date of discharge.

The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is the state’s clearinghouse for consumer complaints, protection and information. The call center is staffed with trained analysts who can respond to questions about programs and regulations under the department’s purview, provide information on a wide variety of topics or direct callers to the appropriate government agency.  Consumers can get tips or file a complaint at FreshFromFlorida.com.

Consumers who believe fraud has taken place can contact the department’s consumer protection and information hotline at 1-800-HELP-FLA (435-7352) or, for Spanish speakers, 1-800-FL-AYUDA (352-9832).

For more information about the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, visit www.FreshFromFlorida.com.

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For 24-hour counsel, call the National Veteran Crisis Hotline at 1-800-273-8255. You are NOT alone!