An unidentified couple walk in the rain as Tropical Storm Fay approaches the Florida Keys in Big Pine Key, Fla., Monday, Aug. 18, 2008. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)
TALLAHASSEE—As Tropical Storm Fay makes its way over Florida, consumers who experience any damage from the high-speed wind and rain need to carefully scrutinize who they hire to do post-storm repairs.
The Department of Business and Professional Regulation reminds consumers to check licenses before hiring contractors by visiting www.MyFloridaLicense.com.
“Unfortunately, we have seen unscrupulous individuals take advantage of storm victims, and we want to do everything in our power to educate consumers on ways to protect themselves,” stated Secretary Charles W. Drago.
The Department strives to protect consumers from the dangers of working with unlicensed individuals, which may result in personal or financial harm, and to protect licensed professionals from unfair competition with unlicensed individuals.
Governor Charlie Crist issued an executive order on Saturday declaring a state of emergency, and according to state law, unlicensed contracting during a declared state of emergency is a felony.
Here are some consumer tips to prevent unlicensed activity:
Always ask to see the State of Florida 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 or will only accept cash.
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.
The Department of Business and Professional Regulation’s mission is to license efficiently and regulate fairly. For more information, please visit www.MyFloridaLicense.com.
Department of Business & Professional Regulation