DBPR To Consumers: Protect Yourself Following A Storm

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News Release: DBPR

Tallahassee, Fla. - On April 30, 2014, Governor Rick Scott declared a state of emergency for 26 counties across Florida due to heavy rainfall and flooding. As a result of the declaration, the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) is urging consumers to protect themselves from unlicensed individuals offering to make repairs on their homes or businesses. Unlicensed activity occurs when a person who is not licensed by the state performs or offers to perform a job or service that requires licensure in one of the professions regulated by the DBPR.

“After a storm, it’s common for unlicensed individuals to take advantage of consumers who need repairs done,” said DBPR Secretary Ken Lawson. “Unlicensed activity is against the law and is a serious offense especially during a state of emergency. DBPR works to protect the safety of Floridians, both physically and financially, by identifying unlicensed individuals and bringing them into compliance with the law.”

During a declared state of emergency, the penalty for unlicensed activity is elevated from a misdemeanor to a third-degree felony. Common storm-related services requiring a state license include roof repairs, roof replacements, installing new windows, plumbing repairs and electrical repairs or rewiring.

Some home repairs and construction services, such as trimming or removing fallen trees, removing debris and placing a tarp on a roof, do not require a state license. As an added precaution, consumers should check with local building departments to determine if there are any local permitting or licensing requirements.

When working with any contractor, consumers should always verify an individual’s license before signing contracts or making payments. Precautions to take include not paying cash, not writing checks made payable to individuals, especially when working with a company and always receiving a detailed description in writing of the work to be done.

Consumers can verify licenses by contacting the DBPR online at www.myfloridalicense.com, calling 850-487-1395 or through the free DBPR Mobile app available on iTunes or the Google Play store.

Complaints of unlicensed activity should be reported to the DBPR’s Unlicensed Activity Program by calling 1-866-532-1440, emailing ULA@myfloridalicense.com or through the DBPR Mobile app. Recently, the department added a function to the app that allows consumers to submit complaints with descriptions and pictures directly from mobile devices and the complaint information is sent to DBPR headquarters in close to real time. To learn more about reporting unlicensed activity using the DBPR Mobile app, consumers can watch the how-to video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x2MWba_rU_M.

The Department of Business and Professional Regulation’s mission is to license efficiently and regulate fairly. The Department licenses and regulates more than one million businesses and professionals ranging from hotels and restaurants, real estate agents and certified public accountants to veterinarians, contractors and cosmetologists. For more information, please visit www.myfloridalicense.com.

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