If you are a debt relief company that has a call center located in Florida, your business address is in Florida, or you call Florida residents, you had better make sure you have a business telemarketing license and your individual employees hold a commercial telephone salesperson license from the State of Florida.
In the past the need for a telemarketing license may not have been a big deal, or at least that’s what you thought. But not having a valid telemarketing license is a felony in Florida and this week fourteen telemarketers in Florida were arrested and charged under the statute.
On Wednesday detectives arrested the following telemarketers for operating without a license: Bennett Charles Kulback, 28; Matthew Dunn, 36; Kelly Scott Hettema, 21; David Madrid, 22; William Emil Lepido, 43; Kristin Lynn Napolitano, 24; Kirstin Perri Bryan, 21; Daniel Rattelade, 27; Matthew Carlisle Sigman, 32; Emily Victoria Combe, 21; Philip Barone, 51; Edwin Martoral, 42; Joshua David Cooper, 31; and Joseph Anthony Pietragallo, 26.
These 14 arrests also stem from an unresolved complaint after a telephone sales pitch, police said. The unidentified client agreed to pay $400 using his credit card to place an advertisement in Golf’n Style magazine, but then had an additional $49 charged to his card without his permission, according to investigators.
He made several unsuccessful attempts to contact Nationwide Publishing Group before calling police on Oct. 27. Two days later, detectives visited Nationwide Publishing Group, on the 7300 block of North Federal Highway, and interviewed employees who showed them the magazine with the client’s advertisement inside, but they were unable to name locations where the magazine was distributed, despite telling the client the magazine would be available at different country clubs and resorts near the victim’s home. – Source
I’ll admit I was not aware of the law and need to license before but there are plenty of debt relief and debt settlement companies operating that would have staff members subject to being licensed.
If a consumer is dissatisfied with the services of any debt relief company and those services were sold over the telephone, a consumer could file a complaint with the State of Florida and it may lead to the telemarketer or salesperson being arrested and charged with a felony.
The law requires businesses that solicit the sale of consumer goods or services to be licensed, to post some form of security, and that their salespersons be licensed. It also requires the solicitor to identify him or herself by true first and last name and the name of the business on whose behalf he or she is calling. It requires a written contract that matches the description of the goods or services offered in the telephone solicitation, contains the name, address, telephone number and license number of the seller, and states the buyers right to cancel immediately preceding the signature. The written contract is not required if the consumer is given a full refund for the return of undamaged and unused goods or a cancellation of services within 7 days of receipt of the goods or a cancellation of the services and the seller processes the refund within 30 days after receipt of the returned merchandise by the consumer.
Based on the recent arrests over a $49 disputed charge, my advice is all debt relief businesses in Florida or who may call a Florida resident need to get licensed immediately.
For more information on the required licensing and forms, click here.
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