Monday marked the beginning of the 2015 Atlantic Hurricane Season, and the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) reminds Floridians of the importance of hiring only licensed professionals for home and business repairs following a storm. The increased potential danger of unlicensed activity scams are among the many risks Floridians face during hurricane season.
“Florida has a heightened risk for storm damage during hurricane season and it’s crucial that Floridians know how to protect themselves from unlicensed activity scams following a storm,” DBPR Secretary Ken Lawson said. “Verifying the state-issued license of a professional with DBPR is one of the best ways to protect your safety and financial wellbeing after a storm or other natural disaster hits, and DBPR is here to make it easier for Floridians to be proactive.”
During hurricane season, there is often 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. Contractors from out of state will often travel to areas with storm damage to take advantage of the large amount of repair work. DBPR reminds consumers that contractors licensed in another state are still required to obtain a state license from DBPR to perform construction services in Florida.
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. Consumers can report suspected unlicensed activity by calling the DBPR Unlicensed Activity Hotline at 1-866-532-1440, emailing ULA@myfloridalicense.com or using the ‘Report Unlicensed Activity’ feature on the free DBPR mobile app available through the iTunes and Google Play app stores.
To help Floridians proactively combat unlicensed activity, DBPR reminds consumers to be knowledgeable of the common storm-related services that require a state license. Roof repairs, roof installations, plumbing repairs and electrical repairs or rewiring all require a state license with DBPR, while the trimming or removal of fallen trees, removal of debris or placement of tarps on roofs do not require a state license.
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.
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, visit www.myfloridalicense.com.