Consumer Protection
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How to Protect Yourself: Shopping by Mail or Phone Source: Florida Attorney General's Office

Shopping by mail or telephone is often a convenient alternative to shopping at a store. Although most retailers who sell by mail or telephone are legitimate, consumers lose billions of dollars each year to fraudulent telemarketers and mail-order scam-artists.

Before ordering by mail or phone, consider the following:
The company's general reputation and your previous experience with the firm. You can check the firm's reputation with your local Better Business Bureau or with Florida's consumer hotline at: 1-800-435-7352.

Note: the company's refund and return policies, the product's availability, the total cost of your order, and whether the offer sounds "too good to be true"; it always is!

By law, the company is required to ship your order within 30 days, or within the time period stated in its ads. If unable to ship your merchandise within the specified time period, the company must give you a choice of agreeing to the delay, or allow you to cancel your order and provide you with a prompt refund.

If you pay by credit card, you are entitled to the following protection:
If you find a billing error on your monthly statement, you may dispute the charge in writing within 60 days and withhold payment on the disputed amount. You must still pay for any part of the bill that you are not disputing, including finance charges on the undisputed amount. The billing error might be a charge for the wrong amount, for defective merchandise you returned or did not accept, or for products that were not received. Your creditor must acknowledge your complaint in writing within 30 days after receipt, and must resolve the dispute within two billing cycles (but not more than 90 days) after receiving your letter.

Florida law requires telephone solicitors to immediately identify themselves by their true name, the business on whose behalf they are soliciting, and the consumer goods or services being sold.

You may wish to have your name removed from direct mail or telephone lists.
To remove your name from many national direct mail lists, send your name and address to: DMA Mail Preference Service, P.O. Box 9008, Farmingdale, NY 11735-9008.

To avoid unwanted telephone sales calls from many national marketers, send your name, address and telephone number to: DMA Telephone Preference Service, P.O. Box 9014, Farmingdale, NY 11735-9014. Florida law also authorizes consumers to be placed on a special "no sales solicitation calls" listing by paying $10 (with a $5 per year renewal fee) to Florida's Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. For details, or if you believe you were defrauded, contact Florida's Consumer hotline at 1-800-435-7352.