House Regulatory Affairs Committee Approves Legislation to Protect Consumers From Deceptive and Misleading Charities

The House Regulatory Affairs Committee today unanimously passed a bill proposed by Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam to protect consumers from fraudulent and deceptive charity activities.

“Our proposal will help prevent fraudulent and deceptive organizations from preying on generous Floridians in the name of charitable causes,” said Commissioner Putnam. “Thanks to Rep. Jim Boyd for sponsoring this bill and Rep. Doug Holder and this committee for supporting our effort to strengthen Florida’s network of reputable charities.”

The legislation would:
Ban organizations that have violated certain laws in other states from soliciting funds in Florida.
Prohibit felons from soliciting funds for charity.
Require professional solicitors who operate like telemarketers to provide fingerprints for background checks if they collect sensitive financial information, submit scripts used to conduct solicitations and report the percentage of contributions collected that will be provided to the charity.

Require a charity that receives more than $1 million, but spends less than 25 percent on its cause, to provide detailed information, including board members and family relationships between board members and staff.
Increase fines for fraudulent or deceptive acts in violation of the law.

The legislation, filed as HB 629 and by Sen. Jeff Brandes as SB 638, would also create an interactive online database where consumers can access the information charities will be required to report. Information made available online would include: leadership, location, contact information, financial reports and actions taken by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services for violations. With this information, Floridians can make informed decisions when choosing which organizations deserve their support.

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