Department of Business and Professional Regulation Partners with Local Authorities to Put Unlicensed Contractors Out of Business
November 21, 2008
Ocala— Today, there are seventeen fewer people in the Ocala area who are practicing unlicensed contracting, placing consumers at personal and financial risk and threatening the livelihood of state-licensed contractors. The Department of Business and Professional Regulation’s Division of Regulation concluded a five-day unlicensed contracting sting in Ocala. The sting was a coordinated effort by DBPR, the Marion County Sheriff’s Office and the Office of the State Attorney, Fifth Judicial Circuit. The week-long sting operation resulted in 13 arrests and four warrants issued by the MCSO and 13 cease and desists issued by DBPR.
“In response to concerns from our licensees about unlicensed contracting, we have increased our sweeps and stings throughout the state,” said Secretary Charles W. Drago. “Today’s sting exemplifies the need for continued efforts and partnerships, like this one, to combat unlicensed activity.”
The sting operation was targeted to identify and arrest unlicensed contractors by using a decoy house in the town of Anthony. The house, located in a rural area, was in need of substantial repairs. Investigators obtained estimates for installation of security lights, water heater relocation and roof work, all jobs that require a state license.
Unlicensed contracting threatens the financial and personal safety of consumers, as well as the livelihood of licensed contractors. Through enforcement and education efforts, the Department works to deter and eliminate this dangerous activity. There are measures consumers can take to protect themselves. When hiring a contractor, consumers should:
- Always ask to see the contractor’s 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 MyFloridaLicense.com.
- Get a Release of Lien covering all workers and materials. This removes your property from the threat of lien.
- Ask any potential contractor for references and check each one.
- Beware of scams when contractors ask for all the money up front or will only accept cash.
- Beware of contractors who arrive in unmarked vehicles, possibly from out-of-state.
- 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.
- Request from the contractor, via registered or certified mail, a list of all subcontractors and suppliers who have a contract with the contractor to provide services or materials.
- Don’t sign the certificate of completion until you are satisfied with the work done.
The Department’s mission is to license efficiently and regulate fairly. The Department licenses more than 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.