Department of Business and Professional Regulation Remains Tough on Unlicensed Professionals
October 19, 2009
TALLAHASSEE—The Department of Business and Professional Regulation’s Division of Regulation kicked off the first quarter of the state fiscal year with a renewed focus on combating unlicensed activity across the state. In the first quarter, the division conducted 71 proactive enforcement efforts, issued 60 citations and checked nearly 2,000 licenses.
“DBPR works to combat unlicensed activity through a three-tiered approach—education, prevention and enforcement,” said Secretary Charles W. Drago. “Along with the impressive results from proactive enforcement, regulation staff attended 74 events with more than 22,000 participants to educate professionals and consumers about license requirements and unlicensed activity.”
The division proactively combats unlicensed activity through sweeps, which consists of checking licenses to ensure compliance with state laws, and stings, which consist of undercover operations that target known or suspected unlicensed individuals. Both operations may result in the arrest of unlicensed people. Penalties for unlicensed activity can include a fine of up to $5,000 per incident. Persons engaging in unlicensed activity can be charged with a first degree misdemeanor for a first offense. In addition, any person who acts as an unlicensed contractor during a Governor-declared state of emergency commits a third degree felony.
There are measures consumers can take to protect themselves. Always check licenses by visiting MyFloridaLicense.com. Unlicensed activity should be reported to the department via the Web site or by calling, toll-free, 1-866-532-1440. 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 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.
Additionally, licensed contractors are reminded to hire licensed subcontractors when required for work such as plumbing and electrical.
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 MyFloridaLicense.com.