A security guard, a landscaper, a manicurist, and a veterinarian may seem to have nothing in common, but they do. All of them are licensed by the California Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA).
DCA is one of nine entities under the Business, Consumer Services and Housing Agency.
Licensing for protection
DCA issues more than 3.5 million licenses, certificates, and approvals to individuals and businesses in more than 250 professional categories. Through its boards, bureaus, committees, and other entities, DCA regulates many industries and the people licensed to work in them.
Licensing tells you that the person you are dealing with has met certain qualifications and levels of competency. Licensing also offers a remedy if a service is not delivered or work is not acceptable.
Most of DCA’s licensees work in healthcare fields and include physicians, surgeons, and registered nurses. DCA also licenses real estate brokers and salespersons, contractors, accountants, auto repair shops, therapists, for-profit schools, locksmiths, alarm companies, and more.
Consumer education and enforcement
Licensing is only part of the story. DCA promotes and protects the interests of California consumers in other ways as well.
Through award-winning consumer publications, social media, blogs, and community outreach events, DCA staff educates consumers by giving them the information they need to avoid unscrupulous or unqualified people who promote deceptive or unsafe services.
DCA also advocates consumer interests before lawmakers and enforces consumer laws. Its enforcement staff works with the Attorney General’s Office and local district attorneys to fight fraud in the marketplace. Many investigations are initiated as the result of complaints from consumers. If DCA determines wrongdoing, it can place licensees on probation, or suspend or revoke licenses.
When a dispute arises between a customer and a business in certain industries under DCA’s jurisdiction, the Complaint Resolution Program provides an alternative for resolving complaints without going to court. Through this process, the involved parties can work out a solution with the help of a mediator.
You can learn more on our website at www.dca.ca.gov or in our publication titled, Who We Are & What We Do. The book is organized by occupation, and lists the DCA licensing entities, which licenses they regulate, their contact information, web addresses and social media presences, if applicable. The book also includes an overall snapshot of DCA’s services, its history, quick consumer tips, and more. Access it online at www.dca.ca.gov/publications/dca_booklet.pdf, or, for a free printed copy, call the DCA Publications Hotline at (866) 320-8652 and leave your name, phone number, mailing address, and the name of the publication.
To verify a license, call the Consumer Information Center at (800) 952-5210, or visit the DCA website at www.dca.ca.gov and click on “Verify a license.” Consumers can file complaints against licensees by contacting DCA at (800) 952-5210 or online at www.dca.ca.gov.