DBPR reminds consumers to protect themselves by verifying state licenses this hurricane season
May 29, 2014
~Avoid hiring unlicensed handymen for repairs on your home or business following a natural disaster~
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – This Sunday marks the beginning of the 2014 Atlantic Hurricane Season, and the Florida Department of Businesses and Professional Regulation (DBPR) reminds consumers, businesses and professionals to protect themselves following a natural disaster by hiring only licensed professionals to perform necessary repairs. Among the many risks Floridians face during hurricane season is the increased potential danger of unlicensed activity scams, which threaten the livelihood of consumers.
“Hurricane season can take a hefty toll on Florida’s consumers and businesses,” said DBPR Secretary Ken Lawson. “With the right disaster preparedness plan and knowledge of what to do following a hurricane, Floridians can prevent a natural disaster from turning into a financial disaster. Protecting oneself from unlicensed activity is among the most important steps to take after a storm, and DBPR is here to help make Floridians aware of the best ways to be proactive this hurricane season.”
In conjunction with hurricane season comes an influx of unlicensed contracting activity. Unlicensed activity occurs when an individual who is not licensed by the state provides or offers to provide services that require a license in the state of Florida. Consumers can report suspected unlicensed activity by calling the DBPR Unlicensed Activity Hotline at 1.866.532.1440 or by emailing ULA@myfloridalicense.com. Unlicensed activity is illegal and during a state of emergency declared by executive order of the Governor, the penalty for unlicensed activity elevates from a misdemeanor offense to a third degree felony.
In an effort to prevent unlicensed activity scams following a natural disaster, DBPR reminds consumers to be knowledgeable of the common storm-related services that require state licensure. Roof repairs, roof installations, window installations, plumbing repairs and electrical repairs or rewiring all require a state license with DBPR. Common storm-related services that do not require a state license include trimming or removal of fallen trees, removal of debris or placement of tarps on roofs. For the full list of construction industry services licensed by DBPR, consumers can visit www.myfloridalicense.com or call 850.487.1395. In addition to knowing state-licensure requirements, consumers and businesses should also check with their local building departments to determine if their area has any permitting or licensing requirements in place.
In the event of services requiring state licensure being needed following a storm, DBPR urges consumers to always verify the license prior to hiring or signing a contract. Consumers may verify licenses on the DBPR website at www.myfloridalicense.com or over the phone by calling the Customer Contact Center at 850.487.1395. DBPR also provides consumers the option to use the DBPR Mobile app to search state licenses by name or license number from anywhere on a mobile device as well as the ability to submit unlicensed activity complaints in real time. The app is available for free download on the iTunes and Google Play app stores.
The Department of Business and Professional Regulation’s mission is to license efficiently and regulate fairly. The Department licenses and regulates more than one million businesses and professionals ranging from hotels and restaurants, real estate agents and accountants to veterinarians, contractors and cosmetologists. For more information, please visit www.myfloridalicense.com.
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More information about DBPR is available online at www.myfloridalicense.com. Also, follow @FloridaDBPR on Twitter or Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation on Facebook for updates about license renewal cycles, events and other important news.