DBPR Encourages Consumers to Protect Themselves
10th Annual National Consumer Protection Week
February 29, 2008
TALLAHASSEE- Sunday marks the beginning of the 10th annual National Consumer Protection Week, from March 2 to 8, and the Department of Business and Professional Regulation (Department) encourages Floridians and visitors to protect themselves by working with licensed professionals only. The Department provides an online service that makes checking credentials just a click away. Before hiring businesses or professionals, consumers can verify licenses online at www.MyFloridaLicense.com.
“DBPR is proud to recognize this year’s National Consumer Protection Week, along with Florida’s consumer community,” said Interim Secretary Chuck Drago. “Education is the first line of defense for consumers who want to manage their money wisely and protect themselves from unscrupulous or unlicensed individuals. We encourage all consumers to take advantage of the resources that can be found on the Department’s Web site.”
The Web site offers valuable information to consumers. The Web site provides licensing information for professionals and businesses, complaints, and unlicensed activity reports. In addition to verifying licenses, consumers can check whether professionals or businesses have any complaints filed with the Department.
Below are some tips to help protect consumers:
- Always ask to see the license.
- Note the license number and verify that the license is current and in good standing. To check a license, call 850.487.1395 or visit www.MyFloridaLicense.com.
- Ask for references and check each one.
- Beware of scams when individuals ask for all the money up front, will only accept cash, or solicit door-to-door targeting the elderly and uninformed.
- Beware of individuals who arrive in unmarked vehicles, possibly from out-of-state.
- Never pay in cash, especially a large up-front deposit.
- Be cautious of writing checks made payable to individuals, especially when dealing with a company.
- Get everything in writing, including a detailed description of the work to be completed, a completion date and the total cost.
- Do not sign the certificate of completion until you are satisfied with the work done.
- Keep track of notices to owner and obtain a Release of Lien before issuing payment. For more information on liens, visit the construction web page of www.MyFloridaLicense.com.
Unlicensed professional activity is a crime, and should be reported toll-free at 1.866.532.1440.
The Department of Business and Professional Regulation’s mission is to license efficiently and regulate fairly. The Department licenses nearly one million businesses and professionals ranging from real estate agents, veterinarians, and accountants to contractors and cosmetologists. For more information, please visit www.MyFloridaLicense.com.