Consumer Protection Frequently Asked Questions
What does the Office of Consumer Protection do?
We provide assistance for the resolution of consumer-business disputes; investigate allegations of criminal violations; educate and inform the consumer and business communities of existing consumer protection laws; enforces the charitable solicitations, bingo, fortunetelling and adult use ordinances.
How can I find out if a business is reputable?
The Office of Consumer Protection will tell you if we have received consumer complaints against a business and the disposition of those cases. Closed complaints are maintained for five years and may be reviewed upon request.
Do I have three (3) days to cancel a contract?
Not all contracts are cancelable under state law. Consumers may cancel a home solicitation sale over $25.00 within three business days. Future consumer services and some other consumer transactions are also required to have a cancellation clause.
Do I have three (3) days to cancel a car purchase?
No, there is no three (3) day Right to Cancel a new, used, or leased vehicle.
Does the Florida Lemon Law apply to used vehicles?
No, the Florida Lemon Law applies only to new vehicles.
I bought a used vehicle with an "AS IS" warranty. What does this mean?
“AS IS” means there is no warranty. Any repairs or parts replacement are your responsibility.
Someone came to my door looking for cash donations but I have never heard of them before. Are they a real group/organization?
All charitable organizations soliciting in Florida must be registered with the Florida Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services. We suggest that you do not donate until you verify that the charity is registered. Click here for additional information on charities.
I keep getting calls from groups wanting money/donations. How do I know if they are for real?
If you get a call, before you agree to donate, have them send you their most recent financial report. By state law, they must send this report within 14 days. Once reviewed and you have verified the existence of a permit with the Department, then you can decide whether you wish to donate.
How do I find out if a home improvement contractor is licensed in Pinellas County?
Home improvement contractors must be licensed with the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board. The license number must be displayed on advertising as well as on contracts. You can verify a contractor’s license number and check any complaints by contacting the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board or call (727) 582-3100.
Don’t forget to check the complaint history with our department as well by calling (727) 464-6200.
How do I file a complaint with your Department?
If you have a problem with any business transaction, you can file a complaint online or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. If you have any questions about filing a complaint, contact Consumer Protection at (727) 464-6200.
Pinellas County Office of Consumer Protection
14250 49th Street North
Suite 1000, Rm 2
Clearwater, Florida 33762
Once the department receives your complaint, you will be sent a letter of receipt along with a question/answer form to be completed and returned to the Department within seven (7) days. The business is given seven (7) days to respond to your complaint.
How do I stop telemarketing calls?
Consumers can have their name placed on the “Florida No Sales Call” list that prohibits certain telemarketers from calling any telephone numbers on the list. Contact the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services at (800) 435-7352, or visit www.fldnc.com, for information on how to place your name on the list for free.
For free you can also register with the Federal Trade Commission’s Do Not Call Registry at www.donotcall.gov
What services the Office of Consumer Protection Provides to Pinellas County citizens?
The Office of Consumer Protection is a County agency which provides four main services for the citizens of Pinellas County:
- Mediation of consumer complaints.
- Criminal investigation of consumer fraud.
- Regulation of Charitable Solicitation organizations, Bingo, Fortune Telling, Moving, Price Gouging, Towing and Adult Use establishments.
- Consumer education.
Dispute Resolution Section:
- Provide third-party assistance in solving disputes through mutually agreeable resolutions.
- Investigates and mediates consumer-business disputes.
- The mediation process is conducted through telephone contacts and informal hearings held in the office, consumer’s residence, or business location.
Regulatory Enforcement Section:
- Enforces charitable solicitations ordinance
- Licenses Adult Use establishments operating in unincorporated areas of Pinellas County.
- Licenses charitable, authorized organizations and all lessors who are involved in the conduct of Bingo.
- Regulates Pinellas County Towing, Price Gouging, Moving and Fortunetelling ordinances.
- Informs consumers and businesses of their rights and obligations under existing consumer protection laws.
- Train law enforcement on criminal consumer protection laws.
- Consumer education presentations are given to local civic, community organizations, and the public school system.
- The Department distributes consumer education pamphlets, and provides consumer awareness information to the media.
Criminal Investigations Section:
- Conduct a consumer fraud investigation and submit the evidence to the State Attorney’s Office for criminal prosecution.
- Investigates consumer complaints identified as violations of criminal laws.
- Criminal charges and conviction may result in punishment for the offender and possible monetary reimbursement through court ordered restitution.
If you have questions about any of the procedures mentioned here, or wish to check the complaint history of a business, contact the Pinellas County Office of Consumer Protection at (727) 464-6200.