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Florida targets illegal telemarketers

6:14 AM, Jul 16, 2013   |    comments
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- State investigators are conducting sting operations this week on unlicensed telemarketers who call you with a sales pitch.

The new crackdown on illegal telemarketers has already resulted in 14 arrests and fines of more than $75,000 for two companies in Hillsborough and Pinellas counties.

Hotline operators at the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services take complaints every day about telemarketers.

Some of the complaints led investigators to Morgan Air Conditioning in Lutz and Interactive Study Systems, a software seller in Pinellas Park.

State spokeswoman Erin Gillespie says both were using unlicensed telemarketers to call homeowners.

"In Florida, the business has to be licensed to telemarket. Also, each individual telemarketer has to be licensed. They have to pass background checks and other things so we do take it very seriously to protect consumers because we don't want people calling consumers and scamming them."

Gillespie says telemarketing complaints are always among the main complaints handled by the hotline.

"We get calls and complaints every month online and through the phone center. The Do Not Call and telemarketing violations are always our top two complaints and have been for several years."

If you suspect a telemarketer is operating illegally, call the state's complaint hotline at 1-800-HELP-FLA (435-7352).

Dave Heller

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