OPPAGA text logo with graphic of FL historic capitol
OPPAGA text logo with graphic of FL historic capitol

Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services

Consumer Services

What is the purpose of the division?

The Division of Consumer Services is the state's clearinghouse for consumer complaints, information, and protection. The division regulates various businesses and protects consumers and businesses from unfair and unsafe business practices across a wide range of market sectors.

How is the division organized?

The Division of Consumer Services has four bureaus.
  • Bureau of Compliance has regulatory responsibility for the following business entities: motor vehicle repair shops, charitable organizations, pawnbrokers, health studios, sellers of travel, sellers of business opportunities, intrastate movers, sweepstakes/game promotions, and telemarketing. Additionally, the bureau issues agricultural dealer's permits, livestock markets permits, sale of thoroughbred horses permits, liquefied petroleum (LP) gas licenses, and weighing and measuring device permits.
  • Bureau of Fair Rides Inspection has statewide responsibility to inspect all amusement rides in the state, except for certain large parks that have more than 1,000 employees and have full-time inspectors on staff. Inspections also include go-kart tracks, water related amusement rides, and zip-line courses operating throughout the state. The bureau also investigates accidents involving amusement ride patrons and incidents involving amusement rides when those rides may be unsafe for use.
  • Bureau of Mediation and Enforcement is responsible for informally mediating consumer complaints about goods and services provided by businesses. Complaints that fall under the jurisdiction of another federal, state, or local government agency are referred to that office for processing. The bureau administers the Florida Do Not Call Program, which currently has 1,805,433 phone numbers on its list. The bureau also processes administrative enforcement actions for violations by an entity that falls within one of the division's regulatory programs, including violations of the Do Not Call Program.
  • Bureau of Standards is responsible for conducting inspections of the petroleum distribution system and analyzing samples of petroleum products, including gasoline, alternative fuels (ethanol flex-fuel, biodiesel, and denatured fuel ethanol), kerosene, diesel, and fuel oil, as well as antifreeze and brake fluid products. The bureau also conducts routine tests of the accuracy of retail price scanners, the accuracy of labels and the net contents of packaged products purchased daily by consumers and businesses, and inspection and testing of all weighing and measuring devices that are used in commerce. The bureau also oversees liquefied petroleum (LP) gas related activities including training, examinations, and inspections of the LP gas distribution system throughout the state.
The division also includes two other entities.
  • Communications and Outreach aims to increase public awareness about consumer protection issues through publications and public presentations. In addition, the section facilitates a call center to assist individuals with consumer related issues, including the program areas regulated by the division, as well as a variety of other topics. The center may also direct callers to the appropriate governmental offices and maintains the A to Z Resource Guide, an online directory of government programs and consumer information.
  • Florida Board of Professional Surveyors and Mappers assists with the licensing process for professional surveyors or mappers, after approval by the board. In addition, this section recommends disciplinary actions to the board. Based on these recommendations, the board enforces compliance with Florida statutes and rules by disciplining licensees who violate the professional practice act.

During the last year, how many regulated entities held division-issued licenses and how compliant are these entities?

As of May 16, 2020, the division reported that 149,050 applications for regulated entities had been processed by the Bureau of Compliance. In the same year, the division processed 30,206 complaints about businesses. In response to these complaints and as a result of inspections, the division initiated over 9,610 enforcement actions against regulated businesses.

How are these activities funded?

Fiscal Year: 2020-21
Fund Salary Rate/ Position General Revenue Trust Funds
SALARY RATE
POSITIONS
SALARIES AND BENEFITS
FROM GENERAL INSPECTION TRUST FUND
OTHER PERSONAL SERVICES
FROM GENERAL INSPECTION TRUST FUND
EXPENSES
FROM GENERAL INSPECTION TRUST FUND
OPERATING CAPITAL OUTLAY
FROM GENERAL INSPECTION TRUST FUND
SPECIAL CATEGORIES
CONTRACTED SERVICES
FROM GENERAL INSPECTION TRUST FUND
SPECIAL CATEGORIES
RISK MANAGEMENT INSURANCE
FROM GENERAL INSPECTION TRUST FUND
SPECIAL CATEGORIES
TRANSFER TO DEPARTMENT OF MANAGEMENT SERVICES - HUMAN RESOURCES SERVICES PURCHASED PER STATEWIDE CONTRACT
FROM GENERAL INSPECTION TRUST FUND
TOTAL
0
20,270,860

Updates

Consumer Protection from Fraud and Identity Theft. Since January 2015, the division has found more than 4,200 skimmers at gas stations throughout the state. The 2016 Legislature addressed this ongoing issue by enacting Ch. 2016-173, Laws of Florida. The law requires each person who owns or manages a retail petroleum fuel measuring device with a scanning device to affix or install a security measure on the fuel pump to restrict the unauthorized access of customer payment card information. Further, Ch. 2018-84, Laws of Florida, now authorizes the department to seize any skimming device without a warrant.  Despite the additional security measures, the division continued to find skimmers at an increasing rate.

Coronavirus Scams. The Division reports that scammers are taking advantage of fears surrounding coronavirus by setting up websites to sell bogus products, and using fake emails, texts and social media posts as a ruse to take money, get personal information, and unleash malware. The division has added material to their website discussing coronavirus scams and ways to avoid them. 

Amusement Rides. The 2020 Legislature enacted Ch. 2020-141, Laws of Florida, which provides and revises requirements related to amusement rides, including amusement ride managers, permanent amusement ride annual permits, temporary amusement ride permits, testing of amusement rides, exemptions from safety standards, inspection standards, and compliance certifications. The bill revises standards for rules adopted by the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (DACS) relating to amusement rides; provides procedures for introduction and examination of witnesses and evidence in examinations and investigations conducted by DACS; and revises civil penalties.

Where can I find related OPPAGA reports?

A complete list of related OPPAGA reports is available on our website.

Where can I get more information?

Websites of Interest
U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission
U.S. Federal Trade Commission
Better Business Bureau
Performance Information
Performance measures and standards for the department may be found in its Long Range Program Plan.

What are the applicable statutes?

Chapters 472, 496, 501, 507, 525, 526, 527, 531, 534, 535, 539, 559, 570, 604, 616, and 849, and s. 20.14, Florida Statutes.

Whom do I contact for help?

Division of Consumer Services, 1-800-HELP-FLA, or 1-800-435-7352, and 1-800-FL-AYUDA, or 1-800-352-9832

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