How do I file a complaint against an unlicensed person?
Call the Unlicensed Activity Hotline: 1-866-532-1440 or
Email the department at: ULA@myfloridalicense.com
Use the DBPR Mobile App
Mail a Uniform Complaint Form to:
Unlicensed Activity Program
Department of Business and Professional Regulation
2601 Blair Stone Road
Tipsters may remain anonymous, however, please note that under Florida law, E-MAIL ADDRESSES ARE PUBLIC RECORD.
If you do not want your e-mail address released in response to a public records request, do not send electronic mail.
Instead, contact our office by phone or in writing.
To file a complaint about a medical professional, please visit the Department of Health.
Will my complaint be confidential?
When a complaint is investigated, the department must provide a copy of your complaint to the person being investigated. Complaints of unlicensed activity are always public record.
Can I file an anonymous complaint?
Yes. Section 455.225(1), Florida Statutes, states, “the department may investigate an anonymous complaint if the complaint is in writing and is legally sufficient, if the alleged violation of law or rules is substantial, and if the department has reason to believe, after preliminary inquiry, that the violations alleged in the complaint are true.” However, the department needs as much information as possible to successfully investigate an anonymous complaint. If not enough information is received, the case may be closed. Callers to the Unlicensed Activity Hotline, (866) 532-1440, who provide a tip regarding potential unlicensed activity may remain anonymous. CAUTION: Individuals who file a complaint using the email account ULA@myfloridalicense.com, are advised that all emails to state government are a public record will become a part of the department’s investigative file.
What information do you need from me?
Please provide any and all names, contact information, and documents that you have to support your complaints. The department may ask you to provide other information if needed. For example, if your complaint is against an unlicensed contractor, we may ask for a copy of the contract and proof of payment.
What happens after a complaint is filed?
The department will notify you in writing at various stages in the complaint process, including:
- When we receive your complaint
- When the review or investigation is complete
- When your case is forwarded to the legal section for review
- When an administrative complaint is filed
- When your case is closed
- When your case is set for hearing
- When a final order is filed
- The status of any appeal
What action can the department take?
THE DEPARTMENT MAY ISSUE:
- Citation: A citation can be issued for engaging in, offering to, or advertising unlicensed activity imposing a fine up to $2,500.
- Notice to Cease and Desist: A notice to cease and desist is issued to a person stating the alleged unlicensed activity, giving the person information about the applicable law, and directing them to cease doing the work without a license. This is similar to a traffic warning.
- Administrative Complaint: A charging document alleging a violation of law and seeking to exercise the agency’s enforcement authority or to take disciplinary action.
- Injunction: A circuit court order forbidding a person or business from engaging in unlicensed activity.
DBPR is required by law to forward any unlicensed activity cases to the local State Attorney for prosecution. During a declared state of emergency, the penalty for unlicensed activity is elevated from a misdemeanor to a third-degree felony. Because of the heightened penalty, you may wish to check with the State Attorney’s office regarding any cases they may be pursuing.
Can the department help me get my money back?
The department does not have statutory authority to order an unlicensed person to refund your money. The department tries to help you get your money back whenever possible. Unlicensed activity cases are referred to the local State Attorney’s Office for criminal prosecution. All criminal cases are handled by the local State Attorney’s Office. If you call the State Attorney’s Office about your case, please remember that the criminal case number is not the same as the department’s case number. The judge can order the unlicensed person to refund your money.
What is a sweep?
A sweep is an enforcement operation by the department, often in conjunction with law enforcement, to check the licensure status and credentials of individuals or business seen engaging in activities or providing services that require a license.
What is an enforcement operation?
An enforcement operation is an enforcement action by the department, often in conjunction with law enforcement, that catches individuals in the act of offering to perform services or engage in activities that require a license. In addition to locally performed sweep operations, the Division of Regulation coordinates efforts between all ten of our regional and satellite offices throughout the state for a Statewide Initiative on a quarterly basis. These statewide proactive campaigns are often combined with enforcement operations and educational outreach opportunities. The goal is to increase awareness of the hazards of hiring unlicensed persons, and to curtail the unlicensed activity.
To learn more about our proactive enforcement actions,
please visit the Unlicensed Activity Statistics & Reports page of our website.
Does the department have an outreach or speaker program?
Yes. To request a speaker, please contact the Unlicensed Activity Program at (866) 532-1440 orULA@myfloridalicense.com.
Is unlicensed activity a criminal offense?
Yes. for a list of all of the criminal classifications, please view the ULA Prohibitions Summary. Dangers of Hiring an Unlicensed Individual:
- Poor qualifications. Unlicensed persons typically do not have the education, insurance, or qualification required of a licensee.
- Poor quality work. Unlicensed contractors typically do poor quality work or do not finish the project, leaving the homeowner on the hook to repair or finish the project.
- Possible criminal background. Unlicensed persons often have criminal backgrounds that may include fraud, theft, violent crime, sexual offenses, and substance abuse.
- Likelihood of being the victim of a scam. Unlicensed persons often disappear after taking your money, and the department cannot discipline an unlicensed person, help get your money back, or require the person to finish or improve the work done. Scams in the construction industry, especially home improvement, are sadly widespread. Con artists pose as contractors and often target vulnerable people and take advantage of homeowner’s need for urgent post-hurricane property damage.
- Limited resources for broken contracts. When you have a dispute with a licensed contractor, you call the department, which has the authority to discipline and even revoke the license. This gives the licensee more incentive to play fair. However, this type of action is not available against unlicensed contractors and homeowners often find the only answer is an expensive, and generally futile, civil suit.
- No insurance and liability for injuries to others: You may end up being liable for personal or financial injuries to others. An unlicensed contractor typically is uninsured and will have no way to pay you back for any property damage.
- No coverage under homeowner’s policy. Most homeowner policies require that work must be done by a licensed contractor and provide no coverage for work that is not.
- Noncompliance with building codes. Most projects, even small ones, require permits and inspections that unlicensed contractors ignore or are unfamiliar with. If your project isn’t permitted or does not comply with the building code, you may have to remove or repair the work at your own expense and be subject to fines by local government.
- Liens being imposed on your property. You may be subject to liens placed on your property by subcontractors or supplies. Please see http://www.myfloridalicense.com/dbpr/pro/cilb/documents/florida_lien_law.pdf for more information about Florida lien law.
Is a license required to be posted in every advertisement?
Many professions are required to post their license number in advertisements, business cards and contracts. Please see the summary of those professions required to post their license in advertisements for a comprehensive list.
Click the text below to watch the Unlicensed FAQs on YouTube: