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How to check a license (and where to complain)

Choosing a tradesperson or professional can be daunting — there are, after all, 365,000 of them licensed by the state’s Department of Professional Licensure.

That’s why DPL officials urge people to do a little work up front to avoid potential problems down the road.

First, check to make sure the tradesperson or professional is licensed by going to license.reg.state.ma.us/public/licque.asp. In addition to verifying a license, you can check the licensee’s disciplinary history.

This Web page also has links to locate a licensed professional.

Other areas consumers should research include:

∎ What is the licensee’s experience and record of service? Get referrals from your family, friends or neighbors.

∎ Is the licensee listed with the local Better Business Bureau?

∎ Is the licensee a member in good standing of a state or local professional or trade association or local Chamber of Commerce?

∎ Does the licensee carry liability insurance?

∎ Does the licensee provide a detailed estimate of services to be provided and other costs?

∎ Exactly what are you getting for your money? To be clear, get the agreement in writing.

∎ Does the licensee offer a guarantee, warranty or consumer protection policy?

∎ Is the licensee asking for cash payment for services? Such a request might indicate a lack of business stability.

Filing a complaint

Consumers can also file a complaint against a licensee if they believe professional conduct standards have been violated.

The complaint form is available at www.mass.gov/ocabr/docs/dpl/complaint.pdf. Questions can be directed to 617-727-7406.

In many cases, DPL directs consumers to third parties that can help resolve the problem. The agency will investigate if officials determine that a licensee cannot safely continue to practice the trade or profession.

Grounds for complaints include negligence resulting in physical harm to a consumer, misuse of client funds or records, failure to adhere to acceptable standards of practice, fraud, practice while impaired by alcohol or drugs, sexual misconduct, fraudulent procurement of a license, and practice while a license is lapsed.

If the evidence indicates misconduct, the board may impose disciplinary measures: suspension or revocation of a license, reprimand, fine or probation.


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