Florida's agriculture commissioner filed suit Monday against a company for violation of the state's telephone solicitation laws, accusing the business of attempting to bilk consumers with offers of fake energy audits.
Commissioner Adam Putnam filed the suit against Unlimited Energy Solutions Inc., a Seminole County company, after consumers complained they were receiving "incessant sales calls from individuals who claim to be affiliated with utility organizations."
"Floridians are not only agitated by, but have also fallen victim to, incessant sales calls offering goods and services under false pretenses," Putnam said.
Consumers in the Tampa Bay area have contacted the St. Petersburg Times in recent weeks, complaining about similar problems. A report in the Times on Saturday highlighted the scam, which Putnam's office says it has been investigating with local and state law enforcement for about a year.
Putnam says consumers complain that salespeople are using automatic dialing machines programmed with prepaid cell phone numbers to disguise their identity, making it difficult to know who is calling.
Unlimited Energy Solutions and other companies with similar practices have callers pose as employees of local utilities in an attempt to sell goods or services, Putnam says consumers have reported.
The salespeople then set up appointments for energy audits, and upon arrival, inspect the home and offer repair services or equipment that they claim would reduce energy consumption and generate savings on utility bills.
The state's investigation has linked Unlimited Energy Solutions and nine individuals to 62 consumer complaints received through the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
Under court order, the state shuttered one such business, Sun Energy of Florida, in February for violating Do Not Call List laws.
Consumers who may have received a similar call may contact the Consumer Assistance Call Center toll-free at 1-800-435-7352.
Ivan Penn can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 892-2332. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/Consumers_ Edge and find the Consumer's Edge on Facebook.