TALLAHASSEE, Fla— Following the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew, the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) is reminding Floridians of the importance of hiring state-licensed professionals and the dangers posed by unlicensed individuals.
DBPR investigators have been working to inform consumers by handing out brochures on the dangers of hiring unlicensed contractors and posting warning signs that explain that unlicensed contracting during a state of emergency is a felony. Investigators have already visited Volusia, St. Johns, Flagler, Clay, Putnam and Duval Counties.
“Many residents throughout Florida have been adversely impacted by this storm,” said Secretary Ken Lawson. “It is important that consumers protect themselves from unlicensed activity scams by verifying licenses as they begin to make repairs to their homes and businesses.”
Before hiring a contractor consumers should follow these steps to avoid falling victim to unlicensed activity scams after a natural disaster:
- Verify a construction professional’s state license with DBPR before signing a contract by visiting www.myfloridalicense.com or calling (850) 487-1395.
- A contractor must have a license from DBPR to perform roofing repairs or replacements, structural additions, air conditioning repair or replacement, plumbing work, electrical and/or alarm work. These jobs typically require a permit. Be sure to check with your local building department regarding permit requirements for all of your projects.
- Get a written estimate from several licensed contractors. Make sure the estimate includes the work the contractor will do, the materials involved, the completion date, and total cost.
- Contact your insurance agent first to verify that your insurance covers the repairs before you sign a contract.
If you suspect unlicensed activity is taking place, report it to DBPR by calling the Unlicensed Activity Hotline at (866) 532-1440, emailing ULA@myfloridalicense.com or using the free DBPR Mobile app available in the iTunes and Google Play app stores.