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Protecting consumers and legitimate businesses from unfair and deceptive practices

By knowing each state's laws and following them closely, businesses can do what's best for them and consumers

Florida's Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act serves two purposes: It protects consumers from financial harm resulting from unfair business practices, and it levels the playing field so that legitimate, law-abiding businesses are not forced to compete with operations that skirt state law. The Consumer Protection Division enforces Florida's Deceptive and Unfair Practices Act, which covers many industries. Recently, we filed a lawsuit against Storage & Moving Services, Inc., doing business as Ryder Moving and Storage, and its owners, Jose Pino, Jodi Socher and Joshua Socher.

We received more than 100 complaints alleging that Ryder Moving and Storage picked up customers’ belongings but never delivered them, collected money for services never provided and refused to pay for damage to customers’ property, among other things. Allegedly, Ryder Moving and Storage enticed consumers to use its moving services based upon misrepresentations that the Hollywood, Fla.-based company was affiliated with the national moving company, Ryder System, Inc., when there is no connection.

As part of our lawsuit, we are seeking a permanent injunction against the defendants, which would prohibit each of them from ever engaging in any business activity or operation in Florida involving or related to the marketing and sale of intrastate moving services. Additionally, we are seeking restitution for consumers and civil penalties.

It is important that businesses are familiar with each state's laws in regards to deceptive and unfair trade practices. Florida's Deceptive and Unfair Practices Act is at the heart of our consumer protection efforts. While this particular case involves a moving company, we have also had recent cases against auto dealers, phone service providers, book publishers and more. On a daily basis, we investigate and file civil actions against those who engage in unfair, unconscionable or deceptive trade practices, including such things as pyramid schemes, misleading franchise or business opportunities, travel scams, fraudulent telemarketing and false or misleading advertising. Through our enforcement efforts, we have obtained $207 million in judgments and settlements on behalf of Florida consumers since January 2011.

In the case of Ryder Moving and Storage, customers entrusted their clothing, furniture and family heirlooms to this company, only to have the items broken and, oftentimes, lost or never delivered. In other cases, we pursue businesses for misrepresentation to consumers. We will continue to pursue individuals or entities that seek to bilk our citizens out of their hard-earned money. By knowing each state's laws and following them closely, businesses can do what's best for them and consumers.

Pam Bondi

Pam Bondi is the attorney general for the state of Florida.

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